I have had multiple appointments and meetings with Dr. Sternberg since 2014, when I was first diagnosed with pilonidal disease. The first time I met Dr. Sternberg was during my initial “flare up” on my pilonidal cyst. I had gone to the ER, which refused to drain an abscess they were unfamiliar with, then proceeded to go to colorectal doctor in San Jose, who also refused to drain the abscess due to it “not being ready”. A few days later I was in Dr. Sternberg’s office, he immediately drained the abscess and discussed my long term option for pilonidal disease. He was extremely professional and left me feeling that I had reasonable options to deal with this disease. Following the initial draining, I had no issues or flare ups for two full years. By the time another occurred I had already moved out of the bay area and was lucky enough to find a physician who drained the abscess twice. After having have a constantly draining cyst for nearly 8-months, I contacted Dr. Sternberg again to set up a Cleft Lift surgery consultation.
The consultation was straightforward, a review of my particular case and setting a date for the surgery, this was all done quickly. The front office staff (Andrea & Emon) where absolutely incredible working with me. They helped me schedule each appointment, surgery and post-op with Dr. Sternberg. In addition, they worked with me on my insurance (which refused to cover the out of network surgery) and gave me all the details of the surgical cost, out-patient facility cost and anesthesia cost. While I did pay out of pocket, they helped me understand my payment options and timing. They answered every question I had or directed my questions to Dr. Sternberg who responded quickly.
Surgery day came around and I found myself at Presidio Surgery Center first thing on a Tuesday morning. The outpatient surgery center was professional, clean, quick and responded to all my inquiries within a reasonable time. I was pretty comfortable during my time there. They have nurses who take care of each step to prepare you for surgery. Prior to going into the operation room, I met quickly with the anesthesiologist (who was awesome) and Dr. Sternberg. I was able to get any last minute nervous questions out before the surgery.
The surgery itself was a total blur, depending on your case you may go under full anesthesia or (what I believe is more common) get a spinal block. For me, this was the most nerve racking part. Do yourself a favor and don’t YouTube spinal blocks, just read about them. Mine was totally painless, prior to getting the shot itself, my anesthesiologist gave me what he called “surgical Gatorade”, which was really a shot into my IV that made me a bit light headed and definitely sucked the nerves away. I don’t even remember the actual spinal block. Next thing I know, I wake up in the post op recovery room. I felt pretty good, only concerning part of waking up was the numbness in my legs (spinal block) which took about an hour to go away. I was able to walk with no problems and had very minimal pain. I had a post op the next day with Dr. Sternberg where we went through the recovery process and steps to take to ensure proper healing (a boatload of gauze pads, paper tape and “rolling the flap”).
For me, the recovery process was nearly painless (or at least a 100% less painful than having an active pilonidal cyst). You go through lots of gauze and tape, the rolling of the flap does not hurt significantly, more or less feels like pushing on a bruise. I was essentially given an antibiotic (for the open wound/surgical site/potential infection etc.), ibuprofen for swelling and a narcotic for pain. You are required to finish the antibiotic and ibuprofen, but take the narcotic as needed. I think I took 3 OxyContin pills in total and never more than ½ at a time, I’m also a pretty big dude, so I clearly wasn’t in a ton of pain. I encourage everyone to destroy (ask your pharmacist how) narcotic pills once you are no longer using them for this surgeries pain management, those things are no joke. The longest portion of the recovery was the drain hole, which took about 3-4 weeks to close up after the drain was removed.
I am now approximately 50 days clear of surgery, everything is closed and healed up. In fact, I was able to start power lifting, biking and running at about day 40 (would have been earlier but I was waiting for the drain hole to close). I feel amazing, no pain, a little numbness, but pretty dang good. I can sit for long periods, put weight on my tail bone and no longer worry about a long flight or car ride. I highly encourage anyone suffering from pilonidal disease to reach out to the Sternberg Clinic, they have honestly changed my life.