Cleft Lift 11/12/19 - Recovery Log

#1
Hello everyone. I thought I would start a log to help others who may be going through this.

Background:
I think I am lucky because my background with pilonidal cysts is extremely minimal. A tiny lump was discovered under the skin to the left of my tailbone about four years ago. You can't see it with the naked eye and you have to feel around to find it.

It's about the size of a tiny blueberry. I went to the doctor and since there were no symptoms, he misdiagnosed it as a benign growth and instructed me to keep my eye out for changes.

Three years later and I experience my first but very minor flare-up which consisted of what I thought was a butt-crack zit. It kind of hurt if I sat on it the wrong way but that was it. I went to a doctor (totally different doctor) after reading harrowing reddit threads about pilonidal cysts, and she told me it was indeed a pilonidal cyst and the thing bothering me was one small pit.

A few weeks after the diagnosis I decided to go ahead with the surgery immediately since I am in between jobs and have a lot of time off. At first I was extremely concerned about the open-wound surgery, but after doing some research I settled on the cleft lift procedure which makes the most logical sense to me.

It is still weird how I went from thinking I had a simple zit to needing to modify the shape of my butt crack. In this way, this surgery is less of a relief to me as it is for people who have had chronic and painful issues with cysts. It is more of a shock and a gloomy goodbye to my current butt crack. I'm doing this to prevent further problems when it's less affordable for me to address them, like when I'm fully employed.

My worldview has changed a little. I thought me and my current butt were in it for the long haul. You just take this stuff for granted. You never think the shape of your crack will change. It doesn't even register as a consideration. This is just something I have been processing, and I have been spending more time thinking about my crack than I ever thought I would. I am being a little humorous here, but I am also serious. As a healthy and fairly young (27) person, I take my health for granted. I should and will invest more in my health and stop looking at my phone when I use the crosswalk.

Surgery:

My surgery is scheduled for 11/12 with Dr. Immerman. I have heard great things about him. My wife is going to fly with me from Illinois to Wisconsin and we will stay in a hotel for a week until my drain comes out. I am really cashing in early on the "in sickness and health" clause of our vows since we just got married in August. I'm really lucky to have her support.

It's hard to convey the level of anxiety I have about needles and medical procedures, but I'll note that I have insomnia for multiple nights before flu shots and I always pass out when I'm injected.

I have already called the office and they have reassured me that it's likely I will be sedated a little leading up to the surgery. I really hope so. I'm no hero, you know? I'm also worried about going to the bathroom during recovery and the cosmetic outcome of the surgery, but I think when I make it to recovery I'll feel a big sense of relief.

It's possible that my anxiety leading up to the procedure is more painful than the actual surgery and recovery. This is a good opportunity to grow and challenge the deep phobias towards medical procedures that I've always struggled with. One of my challenges to myself is to try to crack a few jokes with the nurses when I am at the height of anxiety which I think will be during the preparation for the surgery. I have a few butt-related jokes I've come up with already. Hopefully this little challenge will help me redirect my brain's default mode of anxiety.

I'll keep you guys posted about how it works out! If you have any jokes you want me to try out...let me know. It will be a good diversion.
 
#2
Hey man I figured I would reply- I'm scheduled for cleft lift surgery with Immerman on Nov. 21st, flying out to Wisconsin from New York. My fiancee will be with me so I'm putting the "in sickness and health" portion of the vows to the test a little early I suppose lol. She works in dermatology so she's been great about this entire scenario. I'm a little different than you as I had a fairly substantial open excision surgery 5 years ago so as far as being a butt model- that ship sailed with the excision surgery years ago. My issue is an open wound in the cleft that won't heal/draining. Dr. Immerman and staff are world-renowned for this stuff so it should be a breeze. And with this being your first operation for the problem, recovery will be smooth for you, the change in appearance of your butt will not be dramatic, and I'm positive you'll be glad you had it done. The way i see it- when you look back 10 years from now it'll be nothing more than a scar and a story to tell.
 
#3
Hey man I figured I would reply- I'm scheduled for cleft lift surgery with Immerman on Nov. 21st, flying out to Wisconsin from New York. My fiancee will be with me so I'm putting the "in sickness and health" portion of the vows to the test a little early I suppose lol. She works in dermatology so she's been great about this entire scenario. I'm a little different than you as I had a fairly substantial open excision surgery 5 years ago so as far as being a butt model- that ship sailed with the excision surgery years ago. My issue is an open wound in the cleft that won't heal/draining. Dr. Immerman and staff are world-renowned for this stuff so it should be a breeze. And with this being your first operation for the problem, recovery will be smooth for you, the change in appearance of your butt will not be dramatic, and I'm positive you'll be glad you had it done. The way i see it- when you look back 10 years from now it'll be nothing more than a scar and a story to tell.
Thanks for the reply! I'm sorry to hear you have been struggling with this condition. I hope your surgery provides you relief. My prediction is that it will because of all of the positive reviews I have read. I will keep you posted about how mine goes. Keep in touch about yours too!
 
#4
Thanks for the reply! I'm sorry to hear you have been struggling with this condition. I hope your surgery provides you relief. My prediction is that it will because of all of the positive reviews I have read. I will keep you posted about how mine goes. Keep in touch about yours too!
Good luck today man! Let us know how it goes and how you're feeling later if you are up to it. First step in ridding yourself of the problem forever!
 
#5
11-12-19:

Morning of the surgery! Last night our flight was delayed by three hours, and then suddenly un-delayed, so we missed it. I ended up driving to where I'm getting my surgery which took 5 hours. We arrived at 4 a.m.! But at least it kept my mind occupied. Otherwise I would have just stayed up worrying.

This morning I'm in pretty good spirits but definitely nervous. Thankfully the staff has already been really nice over the phone and told me they would do everything they could do help with my needlephobia.

Anesthesia is interesting to think about too. I'm not nervous about that part. I know the doctors know what they're doing. It is going to be a short period of profound unresponsiveness. I haven't experienced that since before I was born, so that's intriguing though a touch disquieting.

Off I go.
 
#6
7 hours after the surgery:

I am going to have a difficult time putting into words just how incredible the staff and Dr. Immerman were. Dr. Immerman is an extremely professional and knowledgeable doctor. Even though I was really nervous, his calm and kind demeanor put me at ease. After an appointment with Dr. Immerman first thing in the morning, I went to the hospital.

I was EXTREMELY nervous and unable to stop shaking from nerves when I got there, but the nurses really helped calm me down. I am quite needlephobic and my nurse, Jennifer, used the "tiniest needle that exists" (her words) to inject my arm with numbing medication. Then the IV went in very easily. I usually faint and sweat during injections, but that didn't happen this time, so that's a testament to her skill and bedside manner. My anxiety was much more difficult than the IV insertion itself. Jennifer was an extremely generous, kind, and patient nurse. Everyone there was just incredibly good to me even though I was worked up with anxiety and needed a little extra attention due to that. My nurse Jennifer also spent plenty of time teaching my wife how to care for my wounds which I really appreciated. She didn't rush through anything and gave us plenty of time to ask questions.

The surgery itself didn't even feel like it happened since I was under general anesthesia. They gave me anxiety meds shortly after the IV was administered. This didn't really make me feel high. It just made me not care as much about what was happening, and I was probably a little less filtered which I'm sure my wife thought was funny. I felt it take the edge off within a minute of it going into my IV. If you are feeling extremely nervous, you can request this anxiety medication a little early like I did. Dr. Immerman personally came in and made sure I got it which I also appreciated. He really wanted me to feel comfortable.

They rolled me into the operating room about 30 minutes later. I was only awake in the operating room for maybe a few minutes, but again the anxiety meds took the edge off any nerves I felt.

I asked if we could do a count down and for them to report to me how far I got. I don't remember actually counting down but I only got to 7 according to the nurses. When I woke up from anesthesia they apparently pulled the breathing tube out but I remember none of that. What I do remember is having a bit of a sore throat and feeling very emotional/crying a bit when I was waking up. I was told that is all normal, and it was kind of a nice emotional release after all the stress I felt leading up to the surgery. There was a nurse right next to me to help me through the wake-up process. She just chatted with me and the company was good to have since waking up was a bit disorienting.

There was no pain at all and even 7 hours later I am feeling no pain. I did take some small doses of prescription pain meds today just to be on the safe side, but honestly the entire area is so numb that I don't know if I even need them.

So, if you are nervous about this surgery with Dr. Immerman, while it's natural to feel nervous, you are in the best of hands! I even had some fun at the hospital chatting with nurses/my wife and making some jokes.

The major takeaway for me is that the anticipation was ten times worse than the actual event, and that Dr. Immerman and the staff/nurses he works with are really gifted at what they do!
 
#7
Good luck today man! Let us know how it goes and how you're feeling later if you are up to it. First step in ridding yourself of the problem forever!
Thanks for the well-wishes! I posted a few updates from today. You're in great hands and I can't wait for you to feel some relief from your ongoing pain! Let me know if you have any questions.
 
#8
Thanks for the well-wishes! I posted a few updates from today. You're in great hands and I can't wait for you to feel some relief from your ongoing pain! Let me know if you have any questions.
Congrats on getting through it! Seems that every personal review of Dr. Immerman & staff has been incredible so I'm very thankful he'll be the one doing the surgery. Hope the next couple of days go smoothly with minimal discomfort for you. Appreciate the updates!!
 
#9
Day Two:

Today has overall been okay. I didn't have pain this morning but the pain is starting to set in tonight. I stopped taking pain pills today and tried using just Tylenol, but it isn't enough, so I am back on hydros. I haven't had a bowel movement yet which is a little concerning, but I haven't been eating much either which I am trying to fix.

Today I feel extremely fatigued and a little out of it, but I think that's pretty normal the day after surgery.

I was hoping to be pain free but unfortunately it looks like I'll be dealing with a little pain as I recover.
 
#10
Day Three:

Not going to lie, end of day two and sleeping through the night was tough. Feeling pretty down emotionally and experienced a good amount of throbbing last night. It's also hard to find a comfortable position on the bed since I don't feel comfortable tossing and turning. For this reason my body feels sore from staying in the same position for hours on end. I'm not sure what my pain tolerance is like. It may be a bit lower than normal so take this with a grain of salt. It seems like a vast majority of Dr. Immerman's patients don't feel much pain.

I took a shower last night after removing the gauze which was kind of weird. I feel kind of afraid of the wound and I don't really want to move but I know I should. I haven't look at the wound yet either because it scares me and I worry I'll feel like I am disfigured or something. I really don't want a weird-looking crackless butt, but it's better than having this disease spread.

It was hard to have my wife help me with removing the gauze and showering (mainly bending over to pick up soap/shampoo from the ledge is challenging) because it does feel pretty undignified and I haven't been this vulnerable with anyone before (this week has featured questions like, "how far away from my anus is the incision?" and her looking and telling me), but hey that's life and I can't let this sort of thing get in the way of long-term health. We all need help sometimes. I am starting to think of a way to show my appreciation for her. Maybe a long weekend at a cabin sipping wine and hot chocolate. She really has been a huge help and deserves to be spoiled after this since I am not in a terribly fun/happy mood this week, and removing the blood from the drain and fixing my dressings can't be fun for her.

I have a feeling yesterday and today, maybe Friday (tomorrow), will be the worst of the pain. Hoping things start feeling better soon.
 
#11
Hey man, just wanted to say hang in there! I also had some serious pain after surgery and definitely remember waking up feeling sore all over from sleeping in the same uncomfortable position all night! You’ll start improving soon! I also didn’t look at the wound for a few weeks and it will be shocking at first but I promise it will look more normal than you think.
 
#12
Hey man, just wanted to say hang in there! I also had some serious pain after surgery and definitely remember waking up feeling sore all over from sleeping in the same uncomfortable position all night! You’ll start improving soon! I also didn’t look at the wound for a few weeks and it will be shocking at first but I promise it will look more normal than you think.
Thanks! I'm happy I get to see Dr. Immerman tomorrow morning. Hopefully he can cheer me up a bit and reassure me :)
 
#13
I had surgery with Dr. Immerman on November 4, 2019 and am currently 10 days post-op...just now getting to the point that I am not too sore. I only really get sore if I lay on one side for too long or if I sit in the car for an extended period of time. Definitely really sore for the the first 5-6 days so I had to slowly build up my time sitting. I didn’t sit for a straight hour until day 7. I toss and turn most nights and am just now getting to the point I am able to sleep a little better. This is my second surgery and I have no cleft whatsoever/my backside is completely flat and the incision curves to the right. ( my first one was a cleft lift by a surgeon in Oklahoma...developed a hematoma/draining long tunnel that was in the center of the lowest most portion of the cleft that did not respond to 6 weeks of packing/wound care) I don’t plan on winning any beauty contests and the only people who see it are my wife and I. It can be rather jarring to see the incision but this is Normal. I work with many physicians and I can honestly say that Dr. Immerman is the best physician I have met and one of the kindest people I have ever known. You are in amazing hands. Hopefully soon this will be a very distant memory for the both of us
 
#14
One thing I would make sure you are doing correctly is the folded gauze in between the cheeks. I was doing it wrong the first few days until Immerman corrected the position I was placing it and the gauze folding. You take one piece of 4 x 4 woven gauze...fold it in half two times to make a square.... and then you put it at the base of the incision between the bottom of the incision and the opposite area. The things I was doing wrong were only folding it once as well as letting it be too far in to where the gauze was not adequately separating the cheeks. Also make sure that you have the correct gauze recommended by Immerman (4 by 4, 12 ply 100% cotton woven gauze...I use Medline NON 21424...he says you do not need the sterile gauze that comes individually packaged but I just it prefer that way). We went everywhere in Eau Claire (Walgreens, CVS, Mayo Clinic medical supply, Lincare medical supply) and could Not find it. We ultimately just went back to the clinic to get more gauze. I made sure to get enough to make it until I was able to get home and go to a medical supply store near me that had it
 
#15
Also want to chime in and offer my encouragement! I'll be in your same shoes in 6 days so all these updates are much appreciated. I'm sure the worst is almost over and you'll start to feel rapid improvement soon. Stay strong you got this!
 
#16
Hang in there bud. It gets better I promise. It’s tough at first but you are in the home stretch. You’ll be ok in the end and in a few weeks you’ll never remember you even had surgery
 
#17
Thanks everyone so much. I'll write a longer update today but I do feel better and last night I got a full night of sleep with minimal/no pain. The pain started again this morning but it wasn't so bad. I'm heading to Dr. Immerman's office now for a check-up.
 
#18
Day Four:

Last night I got a full night of sleep without waking up from pain! That was a huge relief. I did take half a hydro and one extra strength Tylenol before bed. This morning when I got up I did have some pain but I took another half of a pain pill which is helping.

My appointment went really well. He took my drain out. He said that most people don't need a drain but a percentage of people REALLY need it and won't heal properly without it. He just has no way of predicting who is who. Since I was barely draining anything, he just took it out. My discomfort is already much better. I'm not sure if/why the drain hurt. Maybe it was mental. I think it's just hard to sit and adjust normally with a drain. In any case I feel much happier without it in.

I'm struggling a little with the idea of how my rear looks now. I still haven't looked at it and I don't feel ready to yet. Maybe in a few weeks. It looks normal under the underwear which is cool, so the shape is still normal, but I have a feeling the new ass crack will umm, hurt my feelings?

He also took all the gauze off my wounds so I just feel more normal. I can wear my normal underwear now too instead of the mesh undies. Yay!

I'm definitely feeling way better physically and emotionally than the last two days. I'm extremely fatigued so I am going to take a nap now :)
 
#19
Day Five:

The rest of yesterday and today have been good! I have been in significantly less pain and I feel more comfortable walking and moving in general. I forgot to mention that my first bowel movement was on day three (surgery was Tuesday, so that would be Thursday). I drank strong coffee and had been taking stool softener 3x daily. It was easy to pass and nothing hurt. I went for the second time this week today. It was comfortable too. So that is nothing to worry about. I'd just recommend eating fiber, drinking juice, water, and coffee, taking stool softener, and walking around.

Even though I don't feel much pain during the day, the area is tight and feels bizarre so movement is slow and uncomfortable. I am ok with this. I'm sure it will get better.

A few days ago I was feeling very down but the clouds seriously parted yesterday and today. I've been laughing, socializing, watching movies, and going out to eat. I'm having a decent time.

I'm slowly processing the change in appearance. I haven't looked still but I've been feeling the change through my pants as a way to dip a tentative toe into the water. The cut isn't as far down as I feared. It is weird to feel such a sudden change to my anatomy but I just remind myself of how much an abscess hurts.

I wanted to stop taking the hydro pills today and succeeded until nighttime. I always feel worse at night when I'm sick or wounded (this is a common complaint people have) . So I took half of one. Dr. Immerman gave me ten and I've only used four -- so an average of under one per day plus extra strength Tylenol. That's not bad really. I have heard stories of pain pill addiction and don't want to become addicted but I was reassured that the amount of pills I've been given is low-risk. Reading other recovery logs from Dr. Immerman patients, it seems more common that people use less management than me, but I guess it is what it is!

Thankful for Dr. Immerman and the nurses who helped me. Really content to think about how I'm cured now.
 
#20
Thank you for keeping this post updated. I'm interested in surgery with Dr. Immerman as well but am worried about follow-up in case wound has trouble healing (such as excessive bleeding). I'm based in Canada so it would be tough to consistently see him post-op. Do you think follow up is necessary or have you been doing well on your own? Additionally can you sit for a while (few hours)?
 
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