Hidradenitis suppurativa is a rare skin condition that can cause pain and infection. Symptoms typically come and go, with recurring outbreaks. Many treatment options can only manage symptoms in the short term. The UPMC Department of Plastic Surgery offers a novel treatment to provide long-term relief from hidradenitis suppurativa symptoms.

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What Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) causes lumps that look like boils or pimples on the skin, often near sweat glands or where the skin rubs together. These lumps may appear on the armpits or groin area. The hair follicles become blocked, leading to inflammation and swollen bumps.

These bumps are often painful and can break open, increasing the risk for infection and scarring. HS is a chronic condition that comes and goes over months or years.

What Are the Causes and Risks of HS?

Doctors and researchers haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of HS, but it does seem to run in families, so you may be more at risk of developing HS if you have a family member with the condition.

Additionally, women, smokers, and people who are overweight are also more at risk of developing HS.

What Are Symptoms of HS?

The main symptom of HS is red, swollen bumps on the skin that may resemble acne. These bumps often appear in the armpits, around the groin or anus, on the buttocks, or under the breasts.

Breakouts typically come and go, but if left untreated, complications can result. Hollow tunnels can form under the skin where the flare-up occurred, potentially leaving behind thick scars.

How Is HS Treated?

Your doctor will recommend treatment based on the severity of your outbreaks. Medications like antibiotics, immunosuppressants, and corticosteroids are often used to reduce the inflammation and manage symptoms, with varying degrees of effectiveness. You might also try creams or home care, including warm compresses, to rein in flare-ups. However, not everyone achieves long-term relief from these treatments.

In severe cases, the lumps may need to be drained via an incision. This approach typically offers only short-term relief. For long-term relief, a surgical procedure may be required to remove all the affected tissue and fat in the area.

Plastic surgeons at UPMC offer a novel hidradenitis suppurativa surgery technique to stop painful outbreaks. The surgeon first removes the affected skin and underlying tissue. The open area created is then replaced and resurfaced with your own healthy tissue that is uninvolved with the disease.

Led by Tahsin Oguz Acarturk, MD, the UPMC plastic surgery team is highly experienced in treating people with this rare skin condition. We understand your frustration and your desire for skin clear of bumps and infection. Hidradenitis suppurativa surgery is available for people with severe, recurring outbreaks.

If you’re not finding relief or want to learn more about hidradenitis suppurativa treatment options, visit us online or call 412-648-9670 to make an appointment with one of our experts.

About UPMC

A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.