Post-Surgical Wound Treatment
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Post-Surgical Wounds Treatment Info
A post-surgical (or post-operative) wound is an incision made in the patient’s skin during a surgical procedure or operation. These incisions typically will heal within 6-8 weeks if given special care and attention. People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or who take some medications such as steroids may see longer recovery. Other factors that can delay wound healing include smoking, having a weakened immune system, or being a chemotherapy patient.
By properly cleaning, bandaging, and monitoring the wound, most complications can be avoided allowing the healing process to be uninterrupted. Wound care will vary from person to person, and incisions will range in size and healing time based on varying factors such as age, health, and type of surgery performed. You should always follow your doctor’s advice and post-surgery care regimen.
In short, the goals of wound care after surgery are:
- To allow the wound to heal rapidly without infection or complication.
- To allow the affected area to return to the best level of function and appearance.
Keep reading to learn more!
Common Wounds After Surgery
There are three common ways that wounds are closed post-operation: stitches, staples, and glue. Your skin will be very sensitive while the wound is healing, and there is also a chance of the wound reopening which is common. This can happen in several ways with different degrees of severity, and if this happens to you, contact your doctor. There will be a follow-up to determine whether to try re-closing the wound or see if it should be left open. Again, all of this will be based on your individual case.
After the wound has healed, your doctor will schedule a time to remove any stitches (if a non-absorbable medical thread was used) or staples. This will usually be up to 2 weeks, though it can be longer or shorter depending on where the surgery took place. If dissolving stitches or glue were used, no follow-up for removal is necessary. These resolve themselves typically within a few weeks.
How to Take Care of Your Wound After Surgery
Taking care of your post-surgical wound is a crucial step in your healing process. If the wound is not kept clean and covered, you are at a much higher risk of developing an infection. The following steps should help you in keeping your wound clean and also reduce scarring. As always, if your doctor has given specific instructions that add to or contradict any of these steps, follow your doctor’s guidance.
- With sterilized hands, remove any old gauze (wound dressing) from the surgical area. Gently wash the incision with mild soap and water removing any crust. Do not scrub or soak the wound. Remove any additional dirt with gauze sponges. Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine. These can harm the tissue and slow down healing.
- Air-dry the wound or use a clean towel to pat it dry.
- If there’s any bleeding, stop it by applying pressure to the surgical wound area with the gauze sponges.
- Do not apply any lotion, cream, or herbal products unless you have checked with your doctor first.
- Carefully cover the clean, dry wound, and apply a fresh bandage to the incision area.
Avoid picking at or scratching the scab. This can interfere with healing and cause scarring. Once the scar forms, there are some people who have suggested that massaging the tissue with vitamin E or petroleum jelly helps improve the appearance and reduce scarring. This has not been proven to help prevent a scar or help it fade. Do not rub your scar or apply anything to it without talking with your doctor first.
It is important not to put additional stress or strain on the wound. For instance, if you have an abdominal incision, try not to strain when using the toilet, bending, or lifting. Do not lift objects over 10 pounds (about the size of a gallon of milk).
How to Keep Surgical Wounds Dry
Do not allow your post-surgical wound to get wet for the first 24 hours after your surgery. If you still need to bathe, a sponge bath is usually fine. By day two, you might be able to shower, but it depends on the type of operation you had. Always check with your doctor first.
Once you are allowed to get your whole body wet, showering will be safer than bathing. That’s because soaking your wound can soften it and may cause it to open up again. A good question for your doctor is whether you need to put on a waterproof dressing. Don’t put soap or any other bath products directly onto your wound while it’s still healing. After you shower, gently pat the area dry with a clean towel.
When to Call a Professional for Surgical Wound Treatment?
Call your doctor if you see any signs that you’re getting an infection around your wound. Here is a list of indicators you should watch for:
As mentioned above in a previous section, you should also call your doctor if the wound becomes open again because you will need follow-up care. You should also contact your doctor if you are confused about any of the care instructions. Your medical team is the first place you should turn to if you ever have any concerns about your wound, keeping it clean, issues with healing, or recovery questions in general. Since they are aware of your unique medical history, you will receive the most accurate information from them as regards your specific case.
University of Michigan Medicine
Surgical Patient Education Program
Choose Wound Care OC For Post-Surgical Wound Treatment
Dr. Faried Banimahd is a board-certified physician specializing in emergency medicine, wound care, and pain management. Our team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs and unique conditions. Our clinic includes highly trained and experienced physicians, registered nurses, and certified medical staff who work together to provide you with the highest standards of wound care treatments.