Tampa Cleft Lift Recovery Log


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Hey all. I found this forum a month back while considering my surgery options for Pilonidal, and it's been great help. I underwent the cleft lift with Doctor Earl McAllister in Tampa, FL today, and wanted to start a recovery log, since everyone else's helped me to know what to expect. My situation is a little different and I thought I might offer a unique perspective, as my Pilonidal history is pretty light.

My first flare up of a Pilonidal abcess was the middle of last month, after a long exam period with some intense sitting sessions. I have a, ahem, forested dairy aire, and am familiar with sweat as I am from florida. I noticed light pain and pus on a Monday, and quickly went to an STD clinic fearing that it was herpes (a strange assumption seeing as I am not sexually active, but I'm a bit of hypocondriac). The first flare up quickly escalated and became the most painful experience of my life by late Tuesday night. It felt as if the boil was full of knives that shifted every time I moved. Even lying with my rear up, I thought I was going to pass out from pain. I was prescribed antibiotics and a heating gel pack the next day, and the cyst popped on it's own on Thursday. I assumed it was a one time thing, walked across the stage at graduation, and assumed I'd left the pain behind me in that tiny dormroom.

Until 3 weeks later, when I had another flare up. Not nearly as bad this time, but now that I googled it as a reoccuring condition, the pain was amplified by the overwhelming sense of dread. My general recommended open excision, but I will be going abroad to teach in a month so I knew that was not an option. Thanks to you guys, I found Dr.McAllister and scheduled a quick consultation last week after the flare up ended. Because I was proactive, I only had one very small pit developed so far, although he said we wouldn't know the full extent of my caverns until we started excavating. Doctor McAllister recommended cleft lift, and while I originally hoping for pit picking, I changed my mind mid-discussion. I didn't want to risk a recurrance in a foreign country. Dr. McAllister was great in that first meeting, nice despite having to deal with both me and my aggressive mother.

So today, I went in for surgery. Had to wait a kind of unreasonable amount of time (3-4 hours? I think), but his nurses were incredible. Very kind, one with a story so uplifting that I wouldn't have minded dying in surgery because I had met a perfect being and knew I could never surpass her. The anesthesiologist was also very personable, we had lots of fun cracking butt jokes. They put me on a light painkiller and then wheeled me in to surgery, didn't even tell me that the anesthetic was coming, and I woke up back in recovery on my back with only some minor discomfort. They wheeled me out and I walked to the car- no pain at all.

Now at home, I feel surprisingly great. Because my cyst was small and I acted early, I was sent home without a drain and only a small scar (maybe 1.5 inches? Hard to tell right now). I am clear to walk, eat and shower regularly. I don't need to drain or press the wound, and am completely gauzeless. Dr. McAllister used a surgical glue and it's made the recovery process really simple. I will return in a week to have stitches taken out, but that's it. Most of all, there is almost no pain. I feel some discomfort and the occasional sharp pain on the stitches every now and then (maybe a 4/10 on the scale). I was prescribed painkillers, but have not taken them because it's all been very easy. I'll shower tomorrow night (and apparently shouldn't wash the area too much because of the glue), and am hoping to delay a bowel movement until day 3. I can say I did rip a few helacious farts from the anesthetic and experienced no pain whatsoever.

I want to stress that acting early seems to have made a MASSIVE difference in the recovery for the cleft lift. Most stories here come from people who have struggled for years and had multiple prior surgeries and lancings. Their recovery times are still great, but the 1-2 month process can be shortened with proactivity and vigilance. Reading testimony, I was grateful that the cleft lift meant I could go abroad, but concerned about the scar and shaping of my rump post-surgery (I already suffer from body dysmorphia and thought of dealing with this almost brought me to tears). Some have given advice that open/closed excisions should be done before cleft lift because they are not as invasive. But my rump looks almost indistinguishable from before: the crack is there (shallower but importantly still well defined) and the scar is hidden within the cleft. As someone who never had a great butt, I relied on the depth of my crack to create the illusion that there was more there. Fortunately, I'm able to keep that mirage up even post-surgery. If you are like me and want to get rid of Pilonidal before it accelerates but are afraid of the recovery/reshaping, please reconsider! You will probably only make the healing and shape worse by taking a "wait and see" approach.

So far, I highly recommend this surgery, even for first cases. Obviously, I'm only one day in. I'll have a final verdict in a few months (or years if it comes back, ugh)!
Day 2
The healing process continues to be easy. Still no pain, just discomfort. I can sit for 20-30 minutes on a coccyx pillow (although I'm actually just using a travel neck pillow to save money) before having to take a break. I took my first shower, and just let clean water run across my back and the area, since my surgeon didn't want me to rub any of the surgical glue off while cleaning. It stung when water touched the area, but it's easy to bare through. I'm more frustrated with my neck pain, which seems to be a result of being prone from the anesthetic. I keep trying to whip my head around to look at the surgery in the mirror, and almost fall over from the neck soreness.

Day 3
My first bowel movement. I was terrified, but it went well. When I first tried, it felt as if I was going to strain my upper buttocks and hurt myself, but it actually doesn't end up using those muscle groups. No pain, just a lot of nervousness! My scar doesn't go too low but even the area near my anus is a bit sore/tender, which has made wiping/cleaning a bit scary. My doctor advised against wet wipes because they could upset the glue, so I've just been doing my best with regular toilet paper and then rinsing off in the shower. If you can, I highly recommend a stool softener or Metamucil supplement. The latter worked wonders for making the process easier/cleaner.

My swelling is going down and I can see more of the stitches, but I'm still very excited that I still have a full crack and a regular looking rump. I am completely mobile, but do have to be careful when it comes to bending over and lying down. Again, I still think the cleft lift is a great surgery, and I'm grateful it's left me able to still function normally with minimal help from my parents.
Day 4-9
In general, progress is continuing well. The swelling has gone down, but as a result I'm finding that the wound/stitches are more sensitive as a result of being exposed. Sweat and tighter underwear are causing the area to sting a little, as opposed to the general discomfort I felt earlier. It's still fully manageable, and I have made a habit of quickly jumping in the shower to wet the area whenever I think sweat is building up.

Day 10
I spent a while sitting today and got up, only to realize a moderate amount of blood on my sheets and underwear. I freaked out, but my parents looked at it and said it looked fine. No pain and when I got a decent look at it, I think the surgical glue on one side simply wore off and caused my cheeks to spread apart back. Disaster averted!

Day 13
I had my stitches removed- a first for me that left me a bit scared. But it was an easy process, with almost no pain or discomfort. My surgeon has given me his graces and I shouldn't need to see him again unless something comes up. There's some light bleeding and more pain but I'm sure that's normal when stitches are removed. The journey has been fine so far- praying that it will mean I won't have to think about Pilonidal again for a long, long while!
It's been 2 weeks since my stitches were removed and wanted to give an update. Overall, still no pain and my rump looks great.

I spent the entire weekend moving and sitting for a conference, and had some logitistical problems but am really surprised by my progress. The first 2 days went great until I sat on a very low stairstep which I think lifted my legs up too high. When I got up, I thought I sat in a puddle- turns out the surgical glue on the bottom of the surgery finally snapped off and blood was everywhere. But after some rest, no major bleeding or problems from that area for 2 more days of intense walking and prolonged sitting. I'm bleeding a very small amount now, but my hope is that this is normal since the scar looks great and I have no pain. All I can recommend is that if you have bleeding, pads work great for saving your clothes (but not your masculinity).
Hey all, back with some good news and complications.

After the glue came off, I noticed an excessive amount of drainage when sitting. It was clear but dried yellow and had a faint smell of skin/rear end. I met with the surgeon, and he said this was very normal- that the skin is still healing from the inside out and pushing old fluid out. We also found a stitch he had missed. After that was removed, I noticed that the drainage reduced substantially.

Another week later, I boarded a series of flights totally 22-24 hours of straight sitting. Not good but necessary for my new job abroad. I felt light pain in two spots, and while I had almost no drainage on my pads, I noticed some blood and more yellow drainage on my cheeks/cleft itself. It's hard to see but my assumption is that the bottom began to split, a common problem on this forum. Unfortunately I had a lot more sitting for orientations which kept the wound from healing quickly, but a week later and the drainage/bleeding have begun to come down as well. I found another missed stitch (argh), and am trying to schedule an appointment with a doctor here to remove it as well as check the wound. But otherwise, I am in no pain. This process is long and frustrating but I'm still optimistic about the cleft lift. It's so much better than open excision.
I know no one has responded, but I need a place to scream. I believe my cleft lift has failed already.

I felt the familiar pain and lumps forming around the very top of my scar 2 days ago but assumed they were just sore from my deskjob. Yesterday night I had a fever of 103 and rushed to the hospital, where my new abcess exploded. Put me on antibiotics (some weird Japanese kind) and told me to come back in a few days. Now my fever has dropped to 99-100 and I feel mentally and physically exhausted. Part of me is desperately hoping that this is just surgery infection, but I've found a sinus hole draining at the top and want to cry.

What's frustrating is that I am now in a foreign country where pilonidal is already rare, where I cannot get the time off for another cleft lift, and where antibiotic prescriptions are weaker (can't even get a heating pad here). I can save all my vacation days and fly back for a second cleft lift procedure, but that means I cannot travel and enjoy this country at my leisure like I had hoped. Even if I did come back, I would have to get the surgery and spend a whole month waiting for another okay only to immediately tempt the area with a 18 hour plane ride. I just want my life back. I'm so hurt, having been so proactive about this whole situation. I had a minor case, and somehow I'm the unlucky 4%.
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I am so sorry to read about your experience. My 14 year old daughter has been dealing with this since last dec. They wanted to excise it right down to the bone and suture her up in layers...uh no! She is a kid with issues and I did not want that for her. This is her first occurrence with this. She had multiple pits and one that opened up. Finally after finding the doctor in Riverview, FL that does the pit picking, we did that. It has been great so far. Unfortunatly she tried to work out ie crunches and hurt the area and it became really inflamed. It hasn't opened fully , which is great but I am dreading it. I have done a lot of research and there are no procedures that cure this....everything i read says there is a high occurrence rate for all the preocedures. So now we have moved and I cant find a doctor and this is the USA so I can imagine your frustration with being out of the country. And i cant believe how many sutures were left in place which then lead to infections! ugh I am so mad for you! Hang in there!
So sorry you are dealing with this! I can't imagine.

Hopefully Dr. McAllister actually did a Cleft Lift. I spoke with his office before and ended up deciding on a different surgeon for various reasons.

I hope it is simply a post-operative issue and not a reoccurrence.

Please keep us updated.

Good luck!
Thanks everyone. I had a follow up with a doctor today. I feel fine, am draining a lot from the sinus and wanted to show it to him to get the antibiotics extended (Japanese doctors limit the amount you can receive at one time).

I lie down, am pointing and he's feeling, and then suddenly he's cutting without even saying anything. He must've tried to lance it a little to help it drain, but now I'm even more frustrated because I don't want that to mess with the previous cleft lift in case this isn't pilonidal. It doesn't look bad but I can't tell if he's cut down the middle of the scar or off to the side. I've just accepted that a second surgery is inevitable at this point, which has kind of helped.
Hi @doubleohcam

It's hard to say. I know McAllister has helped a good number of Floridians on this site, and he was very kind to me in all of our meetings. His staff was incredible and the recovery was quick/painless. The downside is that he missed a few stitches, and it seems my cyst may have come back. I'm naively clinging to the hope that this was just an infected surgery, but time will tell (I have a tiny pit from when it drained/lanced that has been coming and going the past few days, which is a bit weird and makes me unsure whether this is recurrence).

The problem is that McAllister seems to be the only person in the Tampa area who performs the cleft lift, and the rest are probably 2+ hours away. The experts commonly touted on this forum are not anywhere near us, they're mostly in the northeast and northwest. I would definitely recommend McAllister for pit picking if your problem is small, since it's a super easy surgery and usually used as an unreliable first approach anyways. However, I really can't say whether he will be good for you or not for a cleft lift. At the very least though, even though I may have recurred, the recovery of his cleft lift is much better than an open excision. If that's your current alternative option, I'd recommend him just because you'll be able to sit after the surgery. For reference, the surgery cost about 800 with insurance.

I'm debating myself whether to have him perform a second/corrective cleft lift for me or not when I'm back in the states.
Hi all, just wanted to post an update.

I have had some infection off and on for the past few months. It was particularly bad in late October and early November before it just went away on it's own (Japanese antibiotic doses are incredibly weak and never actually kill, drives me batty worrying they just build up resistance). I have a hole about half the size of a pencil eraser and it leaks fluid or pus depending on it's situation.

My parents have been in contact with McAllister and the surgeon who shares an office with him. They are shocked, as they have never had a cyst recur after a cleft lift surgery. They have hypothesized that this is a complication of the surgery coming open and has had trouble healing due to hair growing around/near the area. I don't have a visible lump (but as far as I can remember, I never actually did even pre-surgery). I'm not optimistic, but I'll be planning a return to the US in the spring to have a reassessment and potentially more surgery.

I struggle with pilonidal because my anxiety centers around medical issues. But I just want to remind everyone that as tough as it gets, you just gotta get through it a day at a time. Sometimes it interferes with your plans, sometimes it makes you break down. But you can manage this disease until you get treatment. Your butt weighs you down, so stand up as tall as you can when you get the chance.