Pilonidal Care Program

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The UF Health Pilonidal Care Program tackles pilonidal disease from all angles and with an all-hands-on-deck approach. Our patients benefit from every expert surgeon on our team being involved in pilonidal care and offering a broad range of treatment options.

The program focuses on treating the active disease with surgical intervention and post-operative care when indicated, collaborating with plastic surgery colleagues to facilitate referral for laser hair removal in some cases. However, we also aim to prevent recurrence with close follow-up in the outpatient clinic for wound management, as well as preventative counseling on helpful lifestyle modifications.

Pilonidal cyst diagram

Pilonidal disease is a chronic infection of the skin in the crease of the buttock near the tailbone (coccyx). It is caused by a local reaction to hair, sweat or debris that can get trapped in the skin openings in the buttock crease that lead or connect to deeper cysts and pits under the skin surface.

Pilonidal disease is very common and can happen to anyone. It typically presents in adolescence or early adulthood as an abscess consisting of swelling, warmth, redness, pain and drainage. Diagnosis for pilonidal disease can be made by physically examining the area for evidence of pits, sinus tracts or abscess. Additional tests or imaging is not typically needed to confirm the diagnosis.

The most important parts of treatment for pilonidal disease and preventing infection and abscess formation are lifestyle modifications and prevention:

  • Good hygiene (regular bathing/showers, washing clothes/uniforms after each use)
  • Removing hair from the area (by clipping, chemical or laser hair removal)
  • Loose clothing
  • Not sitting for long periods of time
  • Limit activities such as horseback riding or bicycling

Minimally invasive surgery

Surgical intervention is reserved for those patients who have had persistent disease that involves drainage, bleeding or recurrent abscesses, as well as those who have experienced failed nonoperative treatment options.

The UF Health Pilonidal Care Program offers simple, minimally invasive operations that are attempted prior to planning large, complicated tissue transfer operations. Minimally invasive surgery for pilonidal disease consists of draining abscesses, removing sinus tracts and surrounding infected tissue using punch biopsy tools, also known as pit-picking or the Gips procedure. These outpatient operations are completed under general anesthesia in the operating room.

There are several benefits to having a minimally invasive procedure for pilonidal disease:

  • Low complication and recurrence rates
  • Day case procedure
  • Minimize pain
  • Early return to regular daily activities
  • Good cosmetic result

It’s important to note that the disease can still recur even after surgery.

For more info about pilonidal disease along with the various surgical options, please check out our educational brochure. (Patient education brochure is in Documents tab of WorkFront project).

Meet Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Moiz Mustafa

Moiz Mustafa, MD, is part of the UF Health pediatric surgery team, which includes the chief of pediatric surgery Saleem Islam, MD, MPH, as well as Janice Taylor, MD, MEdShawn Larson, MD, FACS, and Robin Petroze, MD, MPH.  Dr. Mustafa is passionate about all areas of pediatric surgery, including neonatal surgery and minimally invasive pediatric surgery.

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