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.


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  • Edited

    I'm 9 weeks post fistulatomy surgery and life has gone back to normal. No incontinence, no real problems at all. I am 95% healed. I still have a small wound, but the discharge is all but gone. I still take soaks 2x per day, mostly as a precaution since I want to make sure everything is clean as can be while I heal the rest of the way. I see my surgeon again in 3 weeks to make sure I am fully healed, but based on my progress I have complete confidence that this mess is behind me (hahahahah, sorry, it's been a long day). Tulip, I think I have seen you posting for a while now. Please don't let the fear consume you! This is a crappy situation, but you have to brave the surgery if you have a fistula, it's really not going to heal otherwise. The surgery wadn't that bad, I only missed a couple of days of work and if you follow doctors orders you can manage the pain and healing. I wish you the best, but please don't be afraid, just get it taken care of and put this experience behind you!!

    • Posted

      Hi there

      Its 2 weeks that i have had my op

      I want to know have you had pain like beating/pulsating?

      I am having this a few times and im getting worried as i have just had the anal fistula operated/removed


    • Posted

      i had fistula surgery six weeks ago with stool discharge. there is no pain but

      i worried because it is still having discharge after BM.

    • Edited

      Seriously. It's not worth the pain.

      I was super embarrassed when I developed this "abscess" which over the course of the last 8 years has developed into a semi-complicated fistula. I was in 11th grade and I had to be pulled out of school because of the initial perianal abscess. I could feel it expanding and I developed a high fever, and my mom took me to the emergency room. The ER doctor said the abscess was approximately the size of an apricot. It was drained, dressed(no packing, just a bandage) and I was sent home. I was so elated because I felt better immediately. After the anaesthesia wore off it wasn't even that bad. I had minimal pain medication and it seemed fine. Then, instead of healing from the inside out, it healed on the outside and once again began filling up with pus. I was completed devastated.

      I was 16, and I was FREAKED out. I felt ashamed and ugly, as if I did something wrong. I felt like I would never be able to date anyone or marry someone and have a family. Due to absences, they failed me in every class. I was an A student. I couldn't explain to my friends why I was pulled out of school and in the hospital and I was terrified someone was going to find out and tell the whole school (2500+ kids, biggest in the state) about this hideous wound near my behind.

      I was admitted into a children's hospital, but not before I had to do an enema and colonoscopy prep. I won't go into details but the doctor was awful. I believe I had a seton that was unnecessarily large and taken out too soon. I was then sent on my way. never healed. I've had it for 8 years. I didn't tell my parents or my doctor because of the horrible experience I had at the children's hospital and being pulled out of school. I felt like I could keep it under control. I decided I'd keep it a secret and move on. And for 6 and a half years, I did just that.

      It was very small, just two tiny openings where the seton wound tried to heal but didn't and was still draining. By bathing two and sometimes three times a day, I was able to gently drain the wound myself. Sometimes it would get backed up, and to make a long story a little bit shorter, I eventually resorted to popping and draining them myself. This was very rare and solved the swelling problem immediately. But ultimately they never healed.

      This didn't bother me too much until a little over a year ago. My family and I traveled out of state for a week to attend a wedding. I noticed while we were there (very hot southern state, we're from the PNW) that the area was getting a little more irritated than usual. Not being at home, I didn't have the things I needed to effectively drain the wound, so I'd take hot baths and try to use a washcloth to open it up a bit.

      When we arrived home from our trip, things took a turn for the worse. I felt like the abscessed area was growing larger. We went to urgent care, who sent me to the emergency room, who, I'm not even kidding, gave me two vicodin and told me to call my primary care doctor. Suddenly I was scared and anxiety-ridden all over again.

      Anyway this is taking forever to type out so I'll just say that since that time last year I've been on antibiotics to keep the swelling down and infection. I highly recommend NOT waiting to fix this type of issue. Because I waited, I developed scar tissue. This means that the little tunnels in the fistula have to find other ways out. Those two little openings I had to begin with 8 years ago turned into four openings.

      I was hurting all the time. I'm a manager and I work on my feet 8 hours a day at a very fast paced job. The antibiotics were making me sick to my stomach every day.

      Anyway finally about a month ago I hit my breaking point and finally scheduled the damn surgery with my specialist. Sulked around and drank my delicious gallon of colonoscopy prep yesterday(ew) and then today I had the surgery for a seton. Basically keeps the wound open so it can drain. It reduces the swelling, which needs to happen so that my surgeon can see what's causing the fistula itself. So far I'm feeling okay. It was a much better experience than the children's hospital. I'm so relieved that I've finally done this so we can move on to the next step and get this thing GONE.

      I've never posted on a site like this before, to be honest I never even searched for anything about fistulas online because my anxiety is so high that it literally keeps me up at night. I'm really glad there are other people who have stories like mine.

    • Posted

      as I read this it was like i was typing.

      mine also started in 11 grade

      it went away for a while then came back. last year September It got very bad and finally i went to a surgeon who deals with our problem and he operated its now 11 months and I'm healed. no fistula no puss and all that horrible things I went through

    • Posted

      don't Google and stress yourself. it will be ok. its a process but once you go to the right surgeon and have it operated you will be on your way to good health

    • Posted

      Hi where did u find a surgeon. My brother went to India for 3 weeks and just returned today so I pray it worked as no doctors in the US could help
    • Posted

      Dr Cathel Mc Leod in Portland ME fixed me with a cutting seton a year and five months ago. Then dr Jerald Hurdle in Waterville Maine handled the physical therapy for post surgery stenosis.
  • Posted

    For me the surgery was surprisingly painless. I only had a hollow ache for the first two days after surgery and then nothing at all for the remainder of the 12 weeks it took to heal. How well you handle it I think is based on a number of factors- general health (e.g. are you one of the roughly 90% of fistula patients that don't have any underlying disease), cleanliness, age, diet, and, of course, the skill of your surgeon. I feel very thankful to my surgeon that the worst part of my recovery was the worrying that it might come back...the pain itself was virtually nonexistent. The other annoying thing was washing the area down after every bowel movement (and since I was eating 35-40g of fiber per day at the time, that meant 2-3 poops per day).

    • Posted

      Thanks to you all for reading my question and answering. I am glad to hear that there are success stories, thanks. 

      I am constantly thinking about the problem I have and it is always there in my mind I have had a few nightmares about it too, lol!

      It makes me not want to go out. 

      After antibiotics I'm still not happy about it and will be trying to get a GP appointment soon and hopefully fingers crossed get referred. I am NHS - the first time my abscess op was by a bowel surgeon but the second abscess surgey i had was by a general surgeon  the 2nd op I had was not because of an abscess  - it was because the outside of my wound healed and left a 5mm pocket under my skin and packing couldn't get in so they operated and made an even bigger incision though no infection was there...). I don't know if i can but i think i will ask for a bowel surgeon referral.

      I am slim, don't have diabetes and i don't smoke or drink...

      Thank you all for helping

    • Posted

      I will be buying a cushion for sitting at work too
  • Posted

    I'm 1 month post-op and doing fairly well.  I apparently had the fistula over 10 years.  I thought it was an in-grown hair which wouldn't heal and flaired up about once every two months, resulting in me squeazing a little pus out.  Well, in December of 2016 the little pus turned into a large abcess which totally freaked me out.

    I bypassed a general practitioner and went right to a colon surgeon.  He diagnosed me with an anal fistula.  My sugery was scheduled for the end of January.  In the mean time I went through 4 courses of anti-biotics to keep the infection at bay.

    The morning of the surgery I also had an elective colonoscopy at the advise of the surgeon (I just turned 50 and never had one).  Because the fistula did not pass the sphincter, into the rectum the Dr. was able to lay the fistula open.

    I was off work a week.  It was a week before I could sit for any time without a ring cushion.  It was fairly painful for about two days.  But after that I didn't have to take any pain medication.  It drained chunky white discharge for about three weeks.  After a month, I still have a little throbbing at time and some soreness.  No infection though.  I also have the urge to make a bowel movement, pretty much all the time.  I'm hoping that will subside with more healing time.

  • Posted

    This is one of the forums I visited during my ordeal and was able to register on.  Here is my story I hope many of your find resourceful.

    My issue began with what I thought was a hemorrhoid that kept bursting back in early February (it is now early April as I write this, so two months ago).  I began feeling a friction time sensation in my peri-anal area that I attributed to the way in which I was sitting since the lump made sitting properly quite uncomfortable.  I had also driven five hours.

    Fast forward a few weeks later and the discomfort and flare ups were becoming unbearable.  I finally headed to the urgent care where I was diagnosed with an abscess.  The doctor there told me I would need surgery as that was too tender an area.  He referred me to a dermatologist. 

    The dermatologist did the incision and drainage procedure and this helped relieve a lot of the pressure and discomfort but the blood and drainage continued, especially after a bowel movement.  Flare ups were reduced but still occurring. 

    Urgent care had placed me on the wrong antibiotic, it was later determined after the dermatologist sent in the culture.  I had an e-Coli infection as opposed to a Staph infection, which I was told tends to be worse and resistent to many antibiotics.  I find it quite surprising that much of what I read on the Web suggests antibiotics are unnecessary when it comes to a peri-anal abscess.  This is clearly an infection and requires an antibiotic.  The correct antibiotic may have helped reduce the pus but by my third visit in just under two weeks the dermatologist felt the swelling and inflammation should have gone down completely by this time and sent me off to a rectal doctor and one more equipped to deal with a potential fistula.

    I completely lucked out as the rectal doctor had an opening for that afternoon.  He determined that the abscess had not been drained completely and proceeded to make a much larger slit with the incision and drainage.  He also conducted a fistulotomy, not to be confused with the actual surgical procedure.  This was a simple probe to determine the existence of a fistula.  He told me it was a deep abscess and pressed to demonstrate the inner access point and the exterior access when the abscess had formed. At the time he noted a possible seton as the inflammation was too much to determine where the tunnel/channel crossed.  This was not considered a complex fistula from what I could tell.  This doctor happened to be my friend’s doctor and I was advised he had a very solid reputation.  Was very nice and confident.  Talked like he could do the procedure blind folded lol.

    This was on Wednesday and my surgery was immediately scheduled for Monday. I was advised the surgery time would be from 9 am to 3 pm though the actual surgery would only take 15 to 30 minutes.  Following this last incision and drainage I barely noticed the affected area and went about my normal routine though there was still minor swelling, some bleeding and pus present.  Still, this was night and day compared to what I had previously been experiencing.

    This would be my first surgery under anesthesia so was nervous going in and worried I might not be able to be put under (I do need sleep aids).  Anesthesiologist assured me in her seven years of doing this only one person every experienced an allergic reaction and they have protocol to deal with that situation. Everyone assured me I would be knocked out and sure enough the moment they began hooking me up to the IVs I was out cold. 

    Next thing I remembered, it was about two hours later and the peri-anal area was sore and I woke up asking to use the bathroom.  They gave me a container and I was able to pee no problem. 

    Within about 10 minutes I was brought off the bed and was able to sit (albeit wasn’t easy with the sore).  I also inquired about any seton placement and told there was no mention of it in the datebase, so good news there.  They gave me crackers and small containers of cranberry juice.  It was important they were not discharging me until I could demonstrate I was able to urinate more.  Once done with the juice I went into the bathroom and did just that.  The nurse was happy with the result and preparing me for release BUT it is important you have someone pick you up.

    I had already notified my friend and he was already on his way as the surgery and recovery time had pretty much gone as scheduled, concluding at 3 pm.

    You need someone to drive you home.  You have to be present at the pharmacy to get your pain killers as these are narcotics and the hospital cannot simply call in the prescription.  I went to the pharmacy, showed my ID and my friend drove me home and went back to pick up the pain killers.  I was nauseous and sore at this point (very uncomfortable sitting in the passenger seat).

    Once home and once I finally received my pain killer, was admittedly in a pretty good mood having completed the surgery and feeling mostly soreness as opposed to actual pain.  The stomach issues resolved pretty quickly (it appeared that the morphine had caused the stomach issues, probably coupled with the anesthesia.  My rectal area was also tight and sore in addition to the external wound area, which seemed to have some type of plastic-feeling dressing.  Not sure what it was as I didn’t feel much like exploring the area. I didn’t sleep great that night due to the soreness in both regions.

    Day 1 after the surgery, in addition to the soreness, the other main discomfort was my dry throat courtesy of the tubes I was told had been placed down my throat. 

    By day’s end my whole body began to get sore.  This came on relatively slowly.  The surgical area on the outside was bleeding as expected but there was little in the way of anything other than red blood.

    Day 2 after surgery my body was super sore all over to the point that I hardly paid any mind to the actual area that was operated on.  The Oxycodone helped over this period but made me quite sleepy.  On this day it was tough to get comfortable even laying down.

    It was on this day that I also appeared to peel off whatever was covering the wound.  This was the first pain I felt per se once the wound was exposed and I was unable to touch the wound without registering the sharp pain, that I would describe as “moderate” and close to a 6 on the scale of 1 to 10.  It lasted no more than an hour with the exception of when I touched or rubbed against it.

    Day 3 (Thursday) after the surgery my body soreness started to fade by the AM.

    I hadn’t had a bowel movement yet and was worrying because inside my anus appeared to be stitched shut.  I could feel what I thought was stitches but they actually turned out to be part of a big bandage I yanked out of my rectum.  Had no idea it was in there.  Lots of bleeding followed as did a very solid BM that caused zero pain (to my surprise).  Take Metamucil and MiroLax as directed and keep in mind that the pain killers, while great, result in constipation.  Lack of BMs I believe are a result of the anesthesia and its associated side effects.  Despite the lack of cowel movements I did not feel constipated.  It shoiuld be noted that I was doing little eating to this point following the surgery.  Also, the bandage was causing the tightness inside my anal area. 

    With the bandage pulled out, the bleeding and the rather significant bowel movement I had felt mild throbbing soreness in that area the remainder of the day. Constant sitz baths helped.   But I will say I slept like a baby this night with no serious soreness felt unless I happened to rub against the wound.

    Day 4 (Friday) decided to take local drive to do some grocery shopping.  The wound area was still sore but really only when sitting or rubbing against it.  I was not very comfortable driving at this point but it was bearable.  This was due to the pressure placed upon the wound.  It was the first time sitting since the day of the surgery.  I had also cut the pain killers down to one this day and that was before bed. 

    Day 5 (Saturday) went out for lunch and continued feeling better.  Again, it was just when I sat and applied the pressure that the wound area caused any discomfort.  Unlike when I had the abscess, the area did not experience continued inflammation. 

    I am wearing the feminine wing pads and they are fantastic in dealing with this.  While I have the bleeding still, it’s leaving minimal stains on the pads compared to before.  I am leaving a piece of cotton in my rectal area as that continues to bleed as well.

    I have had four BMs since this day with the last one an hour ago from when I was writing this.  The stools even passed over the open wound.  Really anticipated some type of flare up but nothing as of yet.  I immediately jump in the shower and the bath as it is important to keep the area clean.

    I’m fortunate enough to work from home and have done so laying in bed and applying the least amount of pressure on the surgical area.  I will occasionally work while laying on my stomach.  I could not see myself venturing to an office job the first four days after surgery and certainly no jobs requiring strenuous activities.  By Day 5, I could probably have returned to work with some degree of confidence.  Just make sure to have an adequate amount of dressings and a pad in place.  I also like the thin cotton ovals to place along the wound area.

    The healing process I know will likely take three months or more so I’m not gonna fool myself and believe there won’t be any setbacks.  The wound is wide open and about the size of a quarter.  It’s still bleeding with very little evidence of pus.

    My follow up was scheduled for approximately 3.5 weeks after the surgery.

    • Posted

      Thanks for all the information. 

      As as far as antibiotics go they say they do not necessarily work due to were the abscess is, there is not enough blood flow to that area to carry the antibiotic so that can be why sometimes they don't work. They didn't work for me.

      I read recently on this forum that applying magnesium paste to the abscess can help but that doesn't stop the underlying reason the Abscess formed in the first place and if you do not address that it is likely to come back. 

      My story is on the perianal Abscess organisation website. It also goes on to talk about how diet can help you avoid this happening in the first place or healing it once you have it and it is interesting to see a few people here on the forum saying the same thing. Everyone is different though. 

      Good luck with the the healing process thankyou for this very detailed, honest, how it is account of what you went through. Good luck with the healing process. 

    • Posted

      In all likelihood this is true what you are saying about antibiotics.  Having been on the correct one for more than two weeks based on the culture sample, I was just advised last week that at the time of the operation the area was still very much infected and inflamed.  So basically it would appear that the antibiotic did little or nothing to resolve this issue. 

      Week 3 went for my follow up and told it was healing really nicely.  The mild discharge (light yellow) and occasional blood has been continuous and I was advised this is very much normal and expected (emphasis is on the mild).

      Also once I was into Week 3 I noticed that the soreness at the touch of the open wound (whether it be when sitting, maneuvering to get up, walking long distance with some rubbing, or physically touching) had been reduced significantly.  Especially when sleeping and repositioning in bed, this soreness was most evident the first three weeks.  It was nothing that required any type of pain medication, just something to remind me that there was a wound there. It was enough to wake me up a few times over the course of the night. 

      Now into Week Four there are times I am not even concious that I had the surgery.  Touching the wound it's hardly sore and feels more filled in.  I still have the mild discharge and the occasional blood.  I use a piece of gauze and continue to wear the pad.  The guaze keeps anything from getting on the pad.  For me it is just that extra feeling of protection.

      I've traveled by air in the past week and felt fine during my travels out of town. 

      I was told two more weeks and should be healed.  My doctor has scheduled another appointment in a month specifically to discuss diet changes and ways to prevent the abscess from returning.  He did indeed emphasize the impact of diet though that will be discussed in more detail at my next appointment.

    • Posted

      Fantastic news, that's so good to hear. Thankyou so much for this detailed answer. Great to hear of a doctor who is advising diet as a way to help manage this condition, I wish my consultant had been the same! Anyway keep up the good work, hoping you will not need to use this forum again smile Thanks again.

    • Posted

      Hi fistula1968. Thanks for ur success story. I hope to be cured one day too. If I may ask, what was the size of ur abscess when you first had it?
    • Posted

      Sorry for the late response.  Haven't been here for a while but that's a good thing.  It was about size of a dime but would flare up to size of a golf ball.

    • Posted

      I had my surgery two months ago. This past Sunday after a BM I felt weird, so I looked and notices it was really swollen where my cut was made. The hole is almost all the way closed. I pressed on the swollen area and I was able to make a decent amount of pus come out. I have not had any issues since then, but I still have what I consider "normal drainage" which consists of a yellowish/green color most of the time. I have gone to my surgeon and his RN multiple times and every time I get "your doing fine, it is healing great." I don't feel my drainage or the swollen area is really normal at this stage. I am so lost as to what to do.

    • Posted

      Are you on antibiotics? If there is puss you need antibiotics. It might be just that your incision is infected and not the fistula coming back if the issue is on the inside. I had to switch antibiotics when that happened to me. My body stopped responding to the ones i was on. I strongly recommend a second opinion. I am almost a year and a half post my last surgery and I went back to my first surgeon who worked with me through post surgery complications, stenosis, had physical therapy etc. My other surgeon who did a successful cutting c-ton surgery and fistulotomy was like your surgeon...He was great when it came to surgery but did nothing AFTER apart on telling me my pain is normal and my scar looks beautiful. I cried for months until i got second opinion. Very happy and -knock on wood -very normal healed person here. Good luck. Ps with recovery i learned to use the anal muscle not avoid using it. Avoiding using it caused my muscle to almost stop working and i kept on getting cut up down there with every bms. I even stopped eatinf and lives on broth and still got cut up. After physical therapy I learned to always push with my muscle and do anal muscle exercises once per day. I also put a drop of vaseline on my pinkie before i go. World of a difference. Good luck. It's very possible to heal fully!

    • Posted


      Thank you for responding so quickly and with lots of detail. I feel so lost with this issues that happened 4 months ago. It is also hard because my dr. never says anything is wrong. I was on antibiotics from 8/13-8/20 after I begged my dr. My dr. says the same thing about the pus color/discharge is normal and that the wound is healing well. I am just concerned now more than ever because of what happened this past Sunday. I was swollen like a small abscess and then I pushed and puss/blood came out. I have a call into my dr. I hope I hear from them tomorrow and I have an apt. for a 2nd opinion, but not until Nov. I am not sure if I should just go to ER. My wound will be completely healed by Nov.

    • Posted

      Hi. No problem. I get notified of new posts thats why such quick answer. I felt very lost and depressed for 4 years of first being misdiagnosed, then badly patched up at er... was woken up from anaestezia to be told i need to go to a more advanced surgeon for a vaginorectal fistula and finally... fixed by cutting c ton. Id tell you this- If you want to go to ER go for it but just for antibiotics which a walk in would do cheaper for you maybe? Dont go into Er for fixing because they are general surgeons and helped me nothing. You need to find a good surgeon and a proctologist for post surgey issues and lifetime checkups. Get a different antibio from whoever you can for now and then wait for your second opinion. Get a referal for general proctologist as r right there should be no puss. Be optimistic. People do heal. They just want to forget the whole embarassment so they dont stay on forums. Reach me if you need to talk about your issues. I know what a dark place you r in right now and let me tell you I am healed and active and even eating a lot (fat) now smile

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