Skin Infections

Skin infections can be uncomfortable and debilitating. They can cause a great deal of distress to sufferers, particularly if they are in a visible area or cause discomfort and pain.

Some skin infections cause long-term, chronic symptoms that can have a significant impact on quality of life. They may lead to problems with confidence and self-esteem.

Cosmetic surgery can provide a relief from symptoms and a chance to overcome the detrimental effects of a painful, long-term condition.

Hidradentis Suppurativa

This is a painful, chronic disease of the sweat glands (apocrine) that predominantly affects women, It causes abscesses and scarring on the skin. The precise cause of Hidradentis Suppurativa is unknown, but the condition occurs near hair follicles where there are sweat glands, usually around the groin, buttocks, breasts and armpits. It is believed to affect around 1% of the population.

Symptoms include boil-like lumps, cysts, blackheads, scarring and channels in the skin. Normally the condition begins with a firm pea-sized lesion which can either rupture and ooze pus or disappear after a few days. More lumps will often start to develop which may become larger and spread. Some of the lumps may become infected with bacteria causing a secondary infection. Some people with the condition also develop a pilonidal sinus (see below)

Symptoms often appear around puberty and are made worse by smoking and/or being overweight. Many people with the condition also have acne and/or excessive hair growth. The condition often appears to run in families. In rare cases it may be linked to Crohn’s Disease.

Pilonidal sinus

A Pilonidal Sinus is a small hole or tunnel in the skin at the top of the buttocks, where they divide (the natal cleft). It doesn’t always cause symptoms.

However, if the Pilonidal Sinus becomes infected an abscess can develop and you will experience pain and swelling. You will normally be given antibiotics to treat the infection.

If you develop recurrent Pilonidal Sinus problems, you can undergo a procedure to drain pus from the site. Pilonidal Sinus is more common in men. It is believed this may be because men tend to be hairier and the condition may be caused by hair between the buttocks being pushed inwards.

What to expect

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Early diagnosis offers the best chance for effective management of this distressing condition. Various types of medication may be tried by doctors to manage the symptoms, including antibiotics, antiseptic wipes, retinoids (Vitamin A based medications), immunosuppressants and corticosteroids.

This condition can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life and, in some cases, may lead to depression. Cosmetic surgery can help to remove some of the visible effects of the condition and can significantly improve the way you feel about yourself.

Pilonidal Sinus

If you develop an abscess linked to the condition, we offer a simple procedure under local or general anaesthetic to drain pus from the site. For a large Pilonidal Sinus, or one that develops repeated infections, you can undergo a surgical procedure to cut out the infected area and some of the surrounding skin. The wound is left open to heal naturally. An alternative procedure involves closing the wound with stitches. The recovery time is quicker than with an open wound, but there is a higher risk of infection.

What results can be achieved?

There is a range of plastic surgery techniques that may be used, according to the symptoms and location of the condition. These include:

  • Incision and drainage
  • Excision (cutting away the affected areas) and VAC therapy (specialised plastic surgery dressing)
  • Primary closure
  • Skin flap reconstruction

Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a difficult disease to treat and manage with medication. Plastic surgery offers the best chance of managing the condition and overcoming its distressing symptoms, thereby improving the quality of life. It only helps to manage the symptoms and is not a cure.

In the case of Pilonidal Sinus, plastic surgery can remove the infected area and help to prevent recurrent infections.

Possible Risks

The risks of surgery for Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Pilonidal Sinus include swelling, bruising, bleeding, pain and infection of the wound site.

After surgery

You will be given detailed instructions on caring for the wound site and supporting your body to heal effectively. You will be asked to return to the clinic after seven days for a review.

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Plastic surgery alone cannot change your life but it can give you the confidence to make those changes for yourself.

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