Pilonidal Cyst Removal: What to Expect at Home

Skip Navigation

Your Recovery

You had surgery to remove a pilonidal cyst. How long it will take for you to heal depends on the way your surgery was done. After healing, you will have a scar or scars from the procedure. These will fade and become softer with time.

Most people can go back to work and most activities anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Your doctor will let you know what to expect. Until you have completely healed, you will need to avoid strenuous exercise and activities that require long periods of sitting.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Shower as usual. Pat the area around your incision dry with a towel when you are done. Avoid baths until the wound is completely healed. Keep the area dry and clean.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Avoid sitting for a long time or sitting on hard surfaces while you are healing.
  • Most people are able to return to work anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. It will depend on the type of surgery they had.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Incision care

  • If your incision was closed with stitches:
    • Wash the area daily with warm water and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
    • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • If your incision was left open to heal, change the bandage, called a dressing, as instructed by your doctor.
    • Dressing changes may hurt at first. Taking pain medicine about half an hour before you change the dressing can help.
    • If your dressing sticks to your wound, try soaking the dressing in warm water for about 10 minutes before you remove it. You can do this in the shower or by placing a wet washcloth over the dressing.
    • You may notice greenish gray fluid from your wound as you start to heal. This is normal. It is a sign that your wound is healing.

Other instructions

  • Use a coccyx cushion if sitting is uncomfortable. This type of cushion keeps pressure off your tailbone (coccyx) while sitting.
  • In some cases, keeping the area free of hair may prevent problems. Ask your doctor if you should remove hair from the area and what method of hair removal they suggest.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe belly pain.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take your pain medicine.
  • Your incision was closed with stitches and the stitches come loose, or your incision comes open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • You are too sick to your stomach to drink any fluids.
  • You cannot keep down fluids.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.