How To Care For A Surgical Wound
Most individuals never count on having surgery, but when the necessity arises, it can help to have a good idea of what to expect during recovery. Most surgeons will discuss the average recovery time involved with a specific procedure as well as give a time frame in which one will be able to resume work and everyday tasks. Surgery wound care is an important part of the healing process. The tips below will help to ensure that the wound site heals properly and that scaring is as minimal as possible.
Pain management is an important part of the recovery process. Without some form of pain control, one might be tempted to scratch, rub, or press upon the surgery wound in an attempt to dull the pain. In most cases the surgeon will prescribe a pain relief medication that should be taken exactly as directed. Where prescription medication is not given or necessary, one might choose from one of many over-the-counter products.
Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is a popular choice for most individuals. It is a good choice of pain relief right after the surgery as it will not interfere with platelet activity, or coagulation. Ibuprofen is a very effective painkiller and is also an anti-inflammatory medication which means that it can reduce swelling, tenderness, and redness at the surgical site. Ibuprofen does slightly thin the blood and can cause the wound to bleed a little easier, therefore it is not recommended that this medication be taken within 24 hours after the surgery unless it is recommended by a doctor.
Rest the affected area
It is very important to limit one’s movement of the area containing the surgery wound. Fresh wounds, whether they are held together through stitching, staples, skin tape, or glue, are prone to bleeding and can easily reopen if the skin is put under too much strain. Incisions that continue to reopen are much more likely to scar and can pose a greater risk of becoming infected. The area should be kept elevated where it can remain still as possible. For incisions on the abdomen, chest, or back, rolling movements should be made with the utmost ease to prevent strain on the surgery site.
Changing the dressings
The dressing from the hospital should be changed within 24 hours, or whenever blood of other liquid seeps through the dressing. One should carefully pull away the tape that secures the dressing to the skin. The first time the dressing is pulled back, one may notice dried blood or clear fluid buildup around the wound. It is a good idea to clean the area around the wound with soap and water that has been boiled and cooled. To prevent cloth fibers from getting stuck to the skin, one should clean the skin using a piece of gauze dipped in the soapy warm water. Use a fresh piece of gauze to gently dab away moisture from the skin. Place yet another new piece of gauze over the wound and secure it to the skin with fresh dressing tape.
Bathing with a surgical wound
Although it is definitely a good idea to initially clean the wound after getting home from the hospital and to keep it clean, one should avoid letting the wound come into contact with bath water. When sitting in the bath, bacteria from one’s skin and hair, and even from the water itself if there is not a good filtration system in place, can infect the surgical wound. Surgery wound care while bathing should consist of placing a waterproof bandage over the wound. If one is not available, the best solution would be to avoid getting the incision area wet. Avoid contact with harsh soaps, lotions, and other similar products that may build up around the wound and trap bacteria against the sensitive area.
When to call a doctor
A crucial part of surgery wound care is to understand when it is time to call a doctor. Although some surgeons will prescribe an antibiotic to be taken after the procedure as a preventative measure, not all physicians do this. If any signs of infection arise then one should call a doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms of infection include increasing redness, warmth that radiates from and around the wound, a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, swelling or hardening of the tissues around the wound, increased pain, and drainage that has a foul smell. Concerns about an infection should be relayed to a doctor as soon as possible.
Taking care of a surgical wound isn’t a difficult task but it certainly is an important one. It is a good idea to check on the wound every day to note any changes. Ideally, a surgical wound will look better each day with lessening redness, swelling, and pain. If the wound starts to look or feel worse every time it is checked upon then this is likely an indicator that an infection is present. One should endeavor to attend follow-up meetings with their surgeon so that the wound’s healing progress can be properly monitored.