Pilonidal cysts occur in the “gluteal crease” (butt crease) and develop because of the shape of that crease. In some individuals the crease is very deep, and remains folded all the time. The skin in the crease develops enlarged pores in the midline (we call them “pits”). Loose hairs that fall off the body can become caught in those pores and burrow their way under the skin. These hairs can form a pocket that we call a pilonidal cyst.
The most common age group are people in teens and twenties. These do not develop until a patient reaches puberty, or at least starts developing an adult shape. It is unusual for patients to develop these after age 40, but it does happen. This is more common in men than women; in our clinic, the ratio is 3:1.
If a patient has a pilonidal cyst it will not go away just because they get older – and if it is not treated at a young age, it may become a problem later.
There are many different types of treatment that have been used for pilonidal cysts. Some of these are very successful, and others have an extremely high failure rate. The types of treatment can be divided into two categories: surgical vs. non-surgical.
In general, these non-surgical options may help minimize symptoms for a while, but they are rarely a permanent solution.
Pilonidal cysts are quite common, occur in young adults, and can be a source of pain, frustration, and embarrassment. However, they are quite treatable with modern surgical techniques. If you, or someone you know, are suffering from this condition, your best option is to find an experienced pilonidal surgeon, and it is our recommendation, that you consider the cleft lift operation.
We routinely take care of patients with pilonidal cysts, non-healing pilonidal wounds, and pilonidal abscesses with great success in the pediatric, teen, and adult age groups.