Pilonidal Cyst Surgery Recovery Time for All Different Types of Surgical Treatments

Pilonidal Cyst Surgery Recovery Time for All Different Types of Surgical Treatments

Pilonidal cyst surgery recovery time is one of the biggest concerns that people have when considering what type of treatment to undergo. You want your surgery to be effective, of course, but you also want your recovery time to be as quick as possible.

What's the best treatment option for you? This guide to surgical procedures and their outcomes and recovery times can help you decide.

Traditional Excision

A traditional surgical procedure for pilonidal cysts involves cutting the affected tissue out of the body. This can be the most thorough method of treating a pilonidal cyst, so it may be recommended for serious cases. However, a treatment of this nature can involve an extensive recovery period.

Closed Wounds

Some excision sites are sewn shut with stitches after the removal procedure. When this is done, the wound usually takes about four weeks to heal.

Your doctor may recommend that you be off of work for at least two weeks after the procedure. You may even have to take four weeks off. Limit your physical activity during this time.

Until the wound has fully healed, you should not engage in any intense physical activities, such as exercise.

Open Wounds

Alternatively, the doctor may opt to leave the wound open. This allows it to heal from the inside out. During the recovery process, the wound must be packed, and the packing must be changed frequently.

Open wounds have a higher long-term success rate than closed ones. Studies have demonstrated that patients whose wounds are closed are more likely to experience another pilonidal cyst in that area.

However, the recovery process for open wounds is slower. You can expect to be off work for at least as long with an open wound as you would be with a closed one; don't be surprised if it takes a full four weeks.

Complete healing of the surgical site can take two to three months. Strenuous activity should be avoided for that whole time.


As with full excision, unroofing involves making surgical incisions at the cyst site. However, the full tissue is not removed.

Instead, the incision opens up the cyst. The upper portion of the cyst is removed as well as any sinuses leading to it. The skin around the wound is trimmed. However, the deeper wall of the cyst is left in place.

The wound remains open. It must be packed during the healing process.

For most patients who undergo this treatment, the pilonidal cyst surgery recovery time is shorter than it is for full excision. You may be able to return to work in less than a week. Full recovery may take one to two months. If directions for post-procedure care is followed, the outcome is usually successful.


A less-invasive method of performing surgery on a pilonidal cyst, pit-picking involves making smaller incisions and removing just the body of the cyst through these openings. The openings may be lateral incisions or circular openings made with a punch tool.

As with traditional excision, the wounds can be closed with stitches or left open.

This treatment method is best for women and for men who are not overweight. Overweight men or people whose pilonidal cysts have been a problem for six months or more may experience a recurrence of the disease after a pit-picking procedure.

For those who are good candidates for pit-picking, the recovery time can be much more manageable than it is for traditional excision. Some patients can return to work after just one day. After the operation, most patients report only mild levels of pain. Full wound healing can still take several weeks.

Laser Treatment

There is an entirely different approach to pilonidal cyst treatment available: laser treatment. With this approach, the cavity is cleaned out, and then both the abscess and the sinus tract are closed with the light energy emitted by a laser. Using the laser preserves much of the surrounding tissue.

A twist on this approach couples the laser treatment with pit-picking. The cyst is first excised through a minimally invasive procedure and follow-up tract closing is performed with the laser. Pit-picking can be up to 80 percent more effective when a laser is used in conjunction with the procedure.

Watch a laser procedure in action in the video "Pilonidal Sinus Laser Treatment with the neoV."

Laser treatment boasts both a high success rate and a minimal recovery time. In one study, more than 97% of patients whose procedure was successful did not experience recurrence.

On average, patients take mild painkillers for less than five days after this procedure. Patients can often return to work sooner; you can reasonably expect to return to daily activities within five days of the procedure.

The treatment site may take just a few days to heal and stop oozing fluid, or it can take around a month. On average, this healing process takes less than three weeks. Therefore, some experts recommend laser treatment as an effective treatment for most pilonidal cyst patients.

Ask your doctor if laser treatment is right for you.

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    Complete excision is thorough, but recovery is slow.
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    With most surgical treatments, as recovery times shorten, success rates go down.
  • arrow-right
    Laser treatment can deliver both successful outcomes and short pilonidal cyst surgery recovery times.

Leave questions below about your best surgical option.

Brian Chandler

Brian Chandler