Anal Fistula Specialist

Michael Tarlowe, MD -  - Proctologist

Michael Tarlowe, MD

Proctologist & General Surgeon located in White Plains, NY

Having an anal fistula can be very uncomfortable, but it’s an entirely treatable condition. Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, FACS, FASCRS, is an exceptional proctologist and colorectal surgeon who provides state-of-the-art treatments for anal fistulas at his offices in Upper East Side, Manhattan, and White Plains, New York. Get started with your treatment today by calling the offices of Michael H Tarlowe MD PC, or by scheduling your visit online.

Anal Fistula Q & A

What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that can form between the skin outside of your anus and an anal gland inside your rectum.

If you have an anal fistula, you might experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Redness, swelling, or bleeding around your anus
  • Painful bowel movements
  • A liquid oozing from a hole near your anus that smells bad


If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule a visit immediately with Dr. Tarlowe.


What causes an anal fistula?

An anal fistula typically forms as a result of a clogged anal gland. When one of your anal glands gets blocked up, bacteria build up in it, which causes the gland to swell and fill with bacteria and liquid. This pocket of infected tissue is called an abscess. 

An untreated anal gland abscess tends to grow until it reaches the skin around the outside of your anus, where it breaks through the skin so that it can drain. After the abscess has drained, it leaves a tunnel from the area of your skin that it punctured back to the gland. That tunnel is an anal fistula.


How do you treat an anal fistula?

Dr. Tarlowe offers a few different services to treat anal fistulas, including:


In a fistulotomy, Dr. Tarlowe surgically opens the fistula, enabling it to heal from the inside out. Fistulotomies are the easiest ways to treat a fistula and can be performed on an outpatient basis under sedation with a short recovery time. Your fistula has to be a safe distance from your anus, however, to be treatable with a fistulotomy.


If your fistula runs through or is close to your anal sphincter (the muscles that control your bowel movements), you might not qualify for a fistulotomy, as it can potentially leave you bowel incontinent. In those cases, Dr. Tarlowe might recommend a seton, which is a piece of suture or Silastic material that he threads through your anus and fistula tunnel and ties in a loop and encourages the fistula to heal.

Endorectal advancement flap

If your fistula is particularly complex, Dr. Tarlowe might treat it with an endorectal advancement flap, which involves taking a flap of healthy rectal tissue and stitching it over the fistula opening inside your rectum. This allows your fistula to heal without having to cut into your sphincter muscle.

Fistula plug

A fistula plug is a biologically engineered material that Dr. Tarlowe places inside of your fistula tunnel. The material sends signals to your body to grow new tissue into and across the plug, which closes up the fistula. Fistula plugs enable Dr. Tarlowe to treat your fistula without cutting your sphincter muscle, and you can go home the same day as your procedure.

To learn more about patient preparations for upcoming procedures, click here.

If you think that you have an anal fistula, don’t delay getting the appropriate treatment. Schedule your visit with Dr. Tarlowe today by calling the office or booking an appointment online.