Anyone had successful anal fistula surgery

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I have read and heard many horror stories regarding anal fistula surgery. I have heard tales of incontinence, reccurence, severe scarring and infection.

Has anyone had sucessful surgery? Or natural medicine healing?

Stories would be appreciated.


1 like, 185 replies

185 Replies

  • Edited

    Natural medicine does not save yourself endless misery and disappointment and don't use it. I had a fistulotomy 2 years ago and it worked beautifully- the wound was quite large, but it did not hurt and it healed completely within 3 months. The problem is that too many people are doing the wrong things when it comes to fistula surgery. So let me break it down for you-

    1.) ALWAYS use a well-regarded colo-rectal surgeon....NEVER go to a general surgeon for a fistulotomy. Only colo-rectal surgeons are experienced in this kind of surgery.

    2.) NEVER wait a long time to get fistula surgery- the longer you wait, the greater the chance the fistula will become more complex/more difficult to eradicate. 

    3.) Always opt for a fistulotomy (lay-open technique) if you can (this should always be the way to go unless the fistula is too high, in which case a cutting seton will do the trick). 

    4.) Use a bidet or shower head after EVERY bowel movement and eat a HIGH FIBER diet at all times. You should never be holding in your poops or straining to get them out.

    5.) STOP SMOKING IMMEDIATELY if you smoke. Smoking not only decreases healing, it also opens your body up to infection and can actually help contribute to the formation of abscesses/fistulas.

    If you otherwise healthy (e.g. no Crohn's or AIDS) then the success rate of a fistulotomy is >90% and the chance of any serious incontinence is very low. Also, infections of the fistulotomy wound are surprisingly rare (1-2%) since the region is fairly infection resistant. 

    Take it from me- I had a really large and nasty perianal abscess which created a long but low fistula. My abscess was likely caused by decades of straining on the toilet and tears. 

    • Posted


      Lots and lots of good advice here, couple of points on number 3.

      A normal high fiber diet is not for everyone.

      I have chronic IBS so most fiber and generally carbohydrate e.g wheat, have the opposite affect on me from what it should so yes we need fiber but it is making sure you get the right fiber for you as an individual. 

      I don't want to cause alarm but my fistulotomy did not work. Three months later a seton was put in place and that did not work either. The only thing that healed me was changing to a very healthy diet. Keeping to that diet has kept me abscess free for the last 5 years.  

      Everyone is different and each has a slightly different story. It is great to hear the fiber diet change worked for you. The correct healthy diet for you as a person alongside modern medicine is definitely the way to go. 


    • Posted

      Yes it is true that if you have other issues (such as IBS) then a high fiber diet is not ideal, but I was basing this all on the assumption that the OP was otherwise without issue. I have mild problems with fiber myself (not IBS, but excessive fiber has me pooping normal sized poops 2-3 times per day, which is annoying but still normal). High fiber can also cause excessive flatulence even in people without IBS. But the point I was making is that the goal is for the stool to be soft and easily passable.
    • Posted

      Hi thanks for the suggestions.  My brother has had a fistula for about 3 years now.  He's had 13 surgeries and still no success.  He is constantly in pain with no relief.  I welcome any advice as I hate seeing him suffer so much


    • Posted


      Is there possible of gaining fistula  after 4 yr

    • Posted

      That's alot of surgeries,try VAAFT surgery for fistula that's painless quick healing

    • Posted

      Thanks for advice and help. I don't have any bowel issues apart from getting a perianal absecess. It came all of a sudden and i don't know why... I eat healthy, don;t smoke or drink, i do loads of walking and running. Could excessive walking do this> I've no bowel disorders . I saw my gp last year as i have a tiny hole which is near my abscess scar, it occasionally drains pus but my gp dismissed it and said do i have constant pus i said no as i don't then he said we'll leave it/ he might think i'm fussing over nohtinhg

    • Posted

      hi i had fistula surgery 6 weeks ago. i still have stool and yellow discharge. it is normal to have discharge after six weeks?
    • Posted


      Are you in the uk? Can you tell me more about this please as I’m desperate 

    • Posted

      its been 2 weeks since my seton was placed and the pain is not getting sny better . I HAVE done everything im suppose to but after a bm i am in terrible burning spasm pain and pain meds do not help.

      Is this normal ?

    • Posted

      Hi Laurie,

      If it has been two weeks and you are still in that amount of pain i would follow up with your doctor. Mine would get irritated at times especially following bowel movements. I think stool is acidic and can get caught in the nooks and crannies of a fistula so hygiene is really important. I would take a hot bath morning and night, and a hot shower midday at the gym. If possible, take a hot bath after EVERY BM. At each bath/ shower I would firmly massage, squeeze and manipulate the area around the seton to help expel anything that may have gotten caught up in there and yes stuff gets caught up there. If it stays caught up in there it will burn. Then I would also use a small medicine syringe to squirt some water through the anus which would flush out the fistula. Any pharmacist will give you a syringe for free. I would also rotate the seton to make sure it was all clean. Then using the syringe, I would squirt a small amount of metronidazole gel in there too. Finished it off with a dab of mentholated barrier cream on the outside of the fistula and covered it with a small cotton pad to keep it from rubbing back and forth. Granted my fistula was relatively low but still through the sphincters. If yours is high up, you may want to speak with your doctor first. Don’t be afraid to grab a mirror and have a looksee down there. If it doesn’t look right and things look really inflamed you need to bring it up and tell your doctor. if they dismiss your concerns get a second opinion.

    • Posted

      oh the barrier cream is called calmoseptine btw

    • Posted

      the only important thing about your diet is that you dont eat foods that constipate. i am 2 years and 2 months post cutting set on removal. total 4 surgeries and apart from scar pain i am healed. knock on wood. constipating foods like meats and cheeses - all dairy constipates but cheese is the worst...and lack of fiber in diet can cause you to tear your anus again and thats how the infection can start and then abscess. i personally am plant based with high fiber. i also eat rice and potatoes but fill my plate with 1/2 cooked veggiea. i eat plenty of fruit. but when i make smoothies i limit my berries as it took me a year to figure out they have so many seeds they actually firm up and harden the you know what. and therefore cause abrasions. so i save berries for flavor but fill the smoothies with mostly tropical plus bananas and ground flax seed. i avoid whole nuts but eat ground nut butters ... also to avoid abrasions. 2 years of this situation and 1 month of physiical therapy at my proctologist cured 90% of my pain. some times i get pain when i stretch my scar and for some reason when i have a fever perhaps because the body is shaking and scar tissue gets aggravated.

    • Posted

      Hi Donna1

      I find buying a tub of sudocrem and splitting it then mixing with germaloids is good for the pain, it's down to you how much germaloids is needed, I also use a silver stirrer as silver is know to keep pathogens at bay and let's face it its not the best spot! I also use ibroprophen but make sure its on a full stomach and only 1small tablet as can constipate.

      Hope this helps.

    • Posted


      I want to share my experience with people who went through the same ordeal.

      I had an anal fistula for years and finally decided to undergo surgery.

      I had my surgery 4 days ago done by an colorectal surgeon.

      Next day I took oxycodone and had no pain but some nagging. Starting from the 3rd day every time I go to toilet I experience immense amount of pain. Just thinking about going to toilet makes me cringe. I do sitz baths recommended by my doctor and take Colace to soften my stools. Please, tell me if you had the same experience? When will it get better? I am scared. I am starting a new job in 1 week. Will I be able to start a new job with that pain. I need some advice. Thank you so much.

    • Posted

      I had 'lay open' fistula and an abscess removal over 4 years ago and still suffer regular periods of pain. I would be grateful to learn how successful your remedy has-been / hopefully still is.

      Best wishes

    • Posted

      3 setons and 8 years later, free of pain, ended cutting the setons out myself! An open wound in the anus! How medieval, I'll never trust surgeons again! If that's the best the 21st century has to offer I'll heal myself from now on! Studying to be a nutritionist which say the body can heal itself! Eat organic, fluoride filter your water, take 30 chews, take supplements, Vitamin C high dose every hour can possibly fight an infection, read up and take back your life.

      I am not a Dr this is just what worked for me,

    • Posted

      Thank you for the advice, very helpful. I have also been suffering recurring peri-anal abscesses for last 7 years at approximately 3 year intervals. My last abscess drainage surgery in Jun 2023 left me with a long low fistula, which was constantly draining pus, with it's opening right next to my anal cavity, which created a lifestyle issue for me, I'm a guy so have been using sanitary pads. I had fistulotomy lay open technique surgery about six weeks ago and with my follow-up visit to the surgeon 3 weeks post surgery, she seemed happy with the healing process. However, now one and a half months on, the pus has still not stopped draining and more worrying is the fact that it appears to be draining in the exact spot where the fistula opening was so how does this tie in with the lay-open technique. When passing wind, for example, I can still feel some of the air passing through the original fistula opening. I'm not sure if this means the surgery failed or if I should just give it more time. like I said it's been about 1 and a half months since the surgery. My surgeon is a colorectal specialist. Should I schedule another visit or just wait longer?

    • Posted

      i just had surgery today and the seton is sticking out. Is that normal?

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