Pilonidal Sinus Surgery| Ramsay Health Care

Surgery for Pilonidal Sinus

This page will give you information about surgery for a pilonidal sinus. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a pilonidal sinus?

A pilonidal sinus is a problem in the natal cleft (area between the buttocks). 

Hairs can grow in the natal cleft, or loose hairs fall and collect in the natal cleft.

As the hairs carry bacteria, the holes can become infected. This causes an abscess to form or a discharge that is released through a tunnel (sinus) out to the skin (see figure 1).


Position of pilonidal sinus showing small holes and an abcess

What are the benefits of surgery?

Surgery is the most dependable way to remove the pilonidal sinus and pockets of infection.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

An occasional discharge can be treated with antibiotics.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about half an hour. 

Your surgeon will remove the sinus and infected tissue.

What complications can happen?

General complication

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

Specific complications

  • Partial breakdown of the wound
  • Slow healing
  • Numbness around the wound

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day. 

You should be able to return to work after two to three weeks. 

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice. 

Occasionally the pilonidal sinus comes back.


Pilonidal sinus is a common problem in young people. It can cause an abscess or persistent discharge and is best treated by surgery.


Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © 2011 Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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