Nutrition and Vitamins for Pilonidal Wound Healing

High protein diet, vitamins and supplements before and after pilonidal cyst surgery

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High Protein Diet

Proper nutrition is important to promote wound healing. Patients should make a real effort to stay on a high protein diet. This means the diet should consist of lots of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts, etc. Carbohydrates, such as bread, cookies, pastries, rice, potatoes, etc, are not as important – and a high carbohydrate diet will cause a person to gain weight. This can be a real problem in patients with open pilonidal wounds who may have their activity restricted because they are not burning off as many calories as they normally would. Surprisingly, fats and oils are less of a problem than carbohydrates regarding weight gain – but the goal should be a high protein intake.

Exactly how much protein a person needs in order to be on a “high protein” diet is not an exact number. It depends on your age, gender, weight and goals. But, 50 gms of protein is a reasonable ballpark number. Many nutritional supplements will list the amount of protein they contain. As you read the labels, look for lots of protein, and minimal carbohydrates. Here are some basic numbers to help you:

Amount of Protein

Good Sources
1/4 lb hamburger 30 gms
4 oz chicken breast 25 gms
4 oz lunch meat 20 gms
1 large egg 6 gms
5 oz tuna 33 gms
Peanuts, 1/2 cup 20 gms
Carnation “Breakfast Essentials” Drink, 8 oz bottle 10 gms
Ensure Plus Nutrition Shake, 8 oz bottle 13 gms
Special K Protein Cereal, 3/4 cup, 10 gms
Note: Although dairy products have a good amount of protein, they are not helpful if you are trying to lose weight.

Not So Good Sources
1 cup spaghetti 8 gms
1 bagel 6 gms
1 cup cooked rice 3 gms
1 banana 1 gm
Nature Valley Crunch Granola Bars, 2 bars, 4 gms
Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted, 3/4 cup, 2 gms

Vitamins and Supplements

There is some controversy regarding the value of additional supplements in a well nourished individual. But, because of issues with our current food supply, even a seemingly well nourished person can be deficient in certain vitamins, which can adversely effect pilonidal wound healing. The vitamin content of our food supply is not what it used to be! Since it can be difficult to determine vitamin deficiencies, it may be a good idea to supplement a healthy diet with the additional vitamins, minerals, and amino acids listed below, which are specifically involved with the healing process. This is especially important for patients who have had problems with prolonged wound healing. For more information, here is a link that discusses vitamin depletion in our diet.

Because antibiotics are used after this operation to prevent infection, it is recommended that patients take a good probiotic while on antibiotics, and for several months after the surgery. I recommend Ther-Biotic Complete, from Klair Labs, one capsule daily, as an excellent choice.

But, please note that if you have a pilonidal wound in an unfavorable position (deep in a cleft in the midline) it may not heal in spite of maximal nutritional support or wound care. If you are dealing with a difficult wound, this nutritional advice certainly may help – but it may not be the whole solution. Surgery may be needed to correct the position of the wound. In general, wounds that haven’t healed in three months, or have healed and opened up again – need surgery to flatten the cleft.

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