Cleft Lift 02/08/2019 Recovery (Dr. Immerman)

Hey guys! This forum helped me a ton so I would love to give back. I am a 22 year old male and have had zero previous surgeries! I also am by no means a professional writer, so hang with me. I intend to update this thread as often as possible, and I will answer questions the best I can!

Short backstory: I have been suffering from pilonidal disease for around 5 years. It started my junior year of high school during football season and due to me playing football and baseball I never really had time to recover from an open excision. That is why I elected not to have the surgery. Between then and now I have had a high amount of flare ups and somewhere along the line (around 2 years ago) I developed a sinus which was constantly draining. The sinus was both a blessing and a curse because it relieved a lot of the pain but was also messy. After developing the sinus I was worried to do things like float trips and swimming in the beautiful lake near my home for fear of infection. After two summers of boringness and more frequent flare ups, I began searching for a solution with less recovery time. I then stumbled upon this website where I found out about the Cleft Lift procedure and Dr. Immerman in Eau Claire Wisconsin. Dr. Immerman was the closest surgeon I found being from extreme southwest Missouri. I then contacted his office, and from then on I was completely sold on the idea of making the 750 mile trip to Wisconsin to rid myself of this awful disease, and that is what I did.

02/07/2019 (Operation Day): I started my operation day with an appointment at Dr. Immermans office at 10:00 AM. This was the first time I met Dr. I, so he examined my back side to give him an idea on what we were dealing with. Dr. I informed me I had 3 or 4 openings in my midline and said it would be on the more difficult side of the procedure. Dr. I told me the incision would more than likely have to go to my anus (not the news I was hoping for, but it doesn’t seem much with me is ever easy). Dr. I and his staff were extremely pleasant during this visit and very confident/reassuring. After the exam I relocated to the OakLeaf Surgical Hospital a few miles down the road. Wow. The hospital and staff were nothing short of amazing. The RN’s and anesthesiologists I talked to had nothing but awesome things to say about Dr. Immerman as well. This was my first surgery (ever) so I was pretty nervous, but the staff at OakLeaf made it easy. I then was wheeled off to the operating room and the last thing I remembered was the anesthesiologist telling me the medicine might feel cold, then bang! I woke up. I was a little groggy waking up but had my wits about me in just a couple minutes. I wouldn’t classify the feeling as pain, however I had slight discomfort while sitting. I was then given some pain medicine which relieved that. Dr. Immerman then came in and told me the surgery had went better than expected and he was able to stop the incision around an inch above my anus. He said the incision was a total of I believe 19cm long. He then explained the post surgery restrictions (hardly anything at all other than things that cause direct trauma to the area like horseback riding or playing football) and told me that sitting immediately after surgery is actually encouraged. I then was discharged from the hospital and came back to my hotel (Holiday Inn Express North - very nice and clean hotel by the way). So far I have not had much discomfort and have the prescribed Tramadol and over the counter Tylenol on hand for when the discomfort comes. OakLeaf sent me home with a sandwich (they let you choose off a menue) too which was not expected but very much appreciated. Overall my experience today was great and I am glad to get started on the recovery!
02/09/2019 (Day 2): Today has been better than expected! I took one of the pain pills prescribed last night before bed and slept very well. I woke up this morning with slight discomfort and took Tylenol which made the discomfort very manageable. I have mostly just been laying around today and giving my body time to recover. There is relatively little pain and I think the pain I do have is where the drain is. I have drained around 20cc’s of fluid since the operation. I have not showered yet but plan on doing that in a couple of hours. I have not had a bowel movement yet, but I have taken colace to aid in that when the time comes (I am a little nervous but based on everybody else’s stories I shouldn’t be). I am probably being more cautious than I need to, but I want to minimize the risks of irritating the incision. Hopefully I will get another good nights sleep tonight and wake up feeling even better!
02/10/2019 (Day 3): Not a whole lot more to report for today. I woke up pretty sore this morning which I think is because the long lasting anesthetic injected during surgery is wearing off. The pain was nothing extreme and was very manageable. I still have not had a bowel movement. I thought I was going to this morning but by the time I sat on the toilet it went away. I think my nerves got the best of me. I’m still taking colace to help when the time comes. I’ve has two showers since the operation. Things definitely look different down there, but I knew that going into it. I think as the healing process goes on things will begin to look more normal. My fiancé got a bit nauseous tucking the gauze in at the bottom of the incision bless her heart. There was not much spotting on the gauze today which I think is good! Just a couple small spots of dried blood. I am still draining around 10cc’s every 12 hours. I have still mostly just been laying around. I’m sure I could be more active but with planning on making the 10.5 hour drive home tomorrow, I’m trying to take it as easy as possible. My post op appointment is tomorrow morning at 9:30 so hopefully Dr. Immerman says everything is looking good!
02/11/2019 (Day 4): TRAVEL DAY! Well I’ve been very nervous for this day. Making the 10.5 hour car ride back to southern Missouri definitely didn’t sound very appealing with a 7.5 inch incision on my backside. I woke up this morning and showered/changed the dressings before my appointment with Dr. Immerman at 9:30. I arrived at his office and was immediately taken back to an exam room where I met with Dr. Immerman. Dr. I removed the dressings and examined the incision. He told me everything looks good and exactly like it should. He said if my drainage continues to be less than 20cc’s a day I can have the drain removed on Wednesday. I then asked him about sitting in a car for 10+ hours only 4 days after surgery and he assured me it would not damage anything down there. That reassurance definitely helped. He also told me to not be afraid to take the Tramadol during the trip because there would probably be some discomfort. I will say that sitting in a car isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing. Not really pain necessarily just constant discomfort. I left and we started the long journey home. I took a Tramadol after leaving Dr. I’s office and the discomfort was there but pretty minimal. After about 4 hours in the car I began feeling more discomfort so I took another Tramadol. I forgot my coccyx cushion at home so I was just sitting on a regular pillow. I’m not sure if the coccyx cushion would really help much anyway due to the incision being off to the left side of the cleft. Once we got around the Des Moine area the weather took a turn and we decided to stay the night in Des Moine so we weren’t on the road in the snow. Overall I would say the car ride wasn’t as bad as I expected. The discomfort was there but not near as painful as I imagined sitting on my butt for five hours only four days after surgery. I’m just laying on my belly watching TV in our hotel now letting the incision rest! Tomorrow we make the rest of the trip home, around 5 more hours. I expect to be a little more sore for a couple days due to all the sitting, but time will tell.
02/12/2019 (Day 5): TRAVEL DAY part two! Today we made the remainder of the trip home! Around 6 more hours in a car and I’m happy to say it went just as well as yesterday! No real pain just mild discomfort. I took 1 of the Tramadol prior to leaving to stay ahead of the curve, but I don’t think I needed it. I used a combination of Tylenol and Ibuprofen throughout the rest of the day. We left at 10:00 AM and got home around 4:00 PM. The nice thing about driving was being able to stop and walk around if needed. I’ve forgotten to mention bowel movements. I didn’t have my first bowel movement until day 3 but it was not near as scary as the thought. I had zero pain whatsoever. The colace helped I think and made everything slide right out. The anxiety prior to the bowel movement was much worse than the bowel movement itself. I’m happy to be home that’s for sure. Dr. Immerman said I could remove the drain tomorrow if it is below 20cc’s, but I think I’m going to leave it until Thursday just to be safe! I’m planning on going back to work (light duty) Monday which will be day 10 post op. If each day keeps getting easier like it has been I don’t think that will be an issue. There has been a very little bit of spotting on the gauze tucked between my but cheeks at the bottom of the incision but not enough for me to be concerned, especially after sitting on it for over 10 hours between the past two days. Overall I am very happy so far!
02/14/2019 (Day 7): Tomorrow will be one week since the surgery and I am feeling pretty good! My step mom is a nurse and removed the drain today. The removal of the drain was kind of scary in my head, but it was not bad at all! Actually removing the stitch which held the drain in place was worse than the drain. The stitch felt like a light pinch and the drain just felt odd but was pretty painless. I have to say immediately after I felt a little bit of relief. I don’t know if it’s just in my head but it feels like the area is less tight down there now! The part of the drain that was inside the skin was probably around 4-6 inches. I am feeling much better than I expected to feel a week after this surgery! The areas I am still struggling in are bending and sitting on soft furniture like couches. I can walk just fine, go up stairs, hold my 9 month old daughter and do pretty much every other day to day task. For those of you on the verge of having a cleft lift, at this point in time I would say do not hesitate. The key l think is having it done by a very experienced surgeon like so many others have said. If anybody has any questions please do not hesitate to ask. I will answer them the best I can! If it wasn’t for the helpful people found in this forum I would have probably just “lived” with the condition until I was forced to do something. I put lived in quotations because living with the constant flair ups and worry takes a lot out of you. There are a couple people (KatieMarie and Vienna) who had the surgery about 2 weeks and 1 week before me who have been very helpful in answering my questions so I haven’t had to bug Dr. Immerman over every little thing. It’s nice to hear from them and see where they are at in the recovery and know where I will be in 1 and 2 weeks! I plan on returning to work on Monday which is a 30 minute drive for me each way and will consist of a lot of sitting at a computer. I feel confident that there won’t be any issues with that. I don’t plan on updating this daily anymore and just as I hit landmarks, but will check daily for questions any of you have!
Just curious, what part about bending and sitting on say a couch is a struggle? Doe the area feel "tight" down there or is it more of a pain thing?

Please give us an update on how your first day of work goes. I have an office job that I drive an hour each way to, and then spend most of the day sitting. I have a stand up desk that I use sometimes as well. So I am am very interested in how you do/feel back at work.
Just curious, what part about bending and sitting on say a couch is a struggle? Doe the area feel "tight" down there or is it more of a pain thing?

Please give us an update on how your first day of work goes. I have an office job that I drive an hour each way to, and then spend most of the day sitting. I have a stand up desk that I use sometimes as well. So I am am very interested in how you do/feel back at work.
I will definitely let you know how work goes. When it comes to bending it’s just that the area feels tight. I’m sure I could do it, but until the incision completely closes I’m a little nervous to. As far as sitting goes, on harder chairs or firm cushions it is no problem. When I try to sit on the couch there is a mild discomfort near the top of the incision. I think it’s because my butt sinks down into it and puts pressure up at the top. It’s definitely not overwhelming pain or anything. I could manage it if I had to, but I prefer to just sit on the kitchen chairs at this point. I’m sure the discomfort will go away when the incision heals!
Hi there! were you in any kind of pain when walking immediately after surgery? i'm an active person and the thought of sitting/laying in bed all day after surgery doesn't seem like fun :( Also, yes! KatieMarie is so helpful and such a nice person and has answered a lot of my questions too. I have a consult for a cleft lift next week!
is your scar very noticeable when you're standing up straight?
Hi there! were you in any kind of pain when walking immediately after surgery? i'm an active person and the thought of sitting/laying in bed all day after surgery doesn't seem like fun :( Also, yes! KatieMarie is so helpful and such a nice person and has answered a lot of my questions too. I have a consult for a cleft lift next week!
is your scar very noticeable when you're standing up straight?
Hi! Honestly there was never much pain when walking even on the way back to the hotel room a couple hours after surgery. Walking, standing and laying on my belly did not cause any pain. Things feel different down there when walking for a few days but not pain. The most pain I ever had after surgery was about a 5 on a scale of 1-10 and that happened on the 2nd morning post up when I woke up. I think it was just the fact that I hadn’t taken any Tylenol or anything all night and the long lasting anesthetic was wearing off so when I woke up I didn’t have any medicine in my system. I personally took it easy and pretty much just laid around in the hotel room the first few days, but I could’ve been more active if I chose to.

As far as the scar goes, I still have my steri strips on so I haven’t really looked at it. Dr. Immerman said after time a new and shallower buttcrack will form and make the scare almost unnoticeable. There’s quite a few pictures on his website of the scar up to 6 weeks post op!

Congratulations on the consultation! I’m sure everyone has told you to make sure the surgeon is experienced in the cleft lift. If they are I don’t think you will have any regrets! Let me know how everything goes and if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask!
02/19/19 (Day 11): Wow! I am feeling great. I am pretty much back to doing all my normal activities without pain. Sitting on soft cushions like a couch still aren’t 100% discomfort free, but much better than even day 7. Driving does not cause any discomfort at this point in time, and I’ve returned to work where I am primarily sitting on an office chair for 8 hours. After about an hour of sitting I can tell the area is getting a little tender, but that is immediately relieved by standing up and walking around for a few minutes. I’m actually going to be in a car for 5 hours this weekend getting a bass boat and feel comfortable in doing so. I’ll be 6 weeks post op just in time for the fishing to get good . Overall I still feel better each day. As so many others have said, it really is amazing where I’m at now on day 11 even compared to day 7. My steri-strips are still holding up pretty good so I’ve left them on. I will probably go ahead and remove them this Friday (2 weeks post op). I could remove them today but don’t see the need and want to make sure everything is good and healed before they come off. That’s just me being overly cautious. If anybody has any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
02/26/2019 (Day 18 Post Op): Just wanted to give a quick update! I sent Dr. Immerman pictures of the incision on Friday (2 weeks post op) and he said everything looks great! The bottom of the incision was pretty dry. He told me not to put any sort of lotion or anything on the incision. He told me I could use a non-drying soap to clean the area.

My steri-strips also came off on Friday and I am very happy with how the incision is looking. I feel awesome and work has not been an issue. I was in a car for 5 hours over the weekend and did not have any discomfort. I can lay on my back for short periods of time without discomfort, however after being in that position for a while I sometimes have to re-adjust to get direct pressure off the incision.

I am back to doing pretty much everything as normal (bending, sitting, laying, etc). I sometimes have to remind myself to slow down and take things easy for a few more weeks. Everything is going great and I am very happy I had the cleft lift done.

If anybody has any questions please do not hesitate to ask!