If you are having a cosmetic surgery procedure, there will likely be one or more incision sites that will need to be cared for when you get home. Proper wound care is an important part of the recovery process, and the correct steps should be taken to ensure trouble-free healing. At Veda Medical in Live Oak, TX, Dr. Pradeep S. Mohan knows the best way to treat wounds following a surgical procedure.
How To Speed Healing With the Best Incision Care
While the body does an excellent job healing itself after surgery, there are certain steps that should be followed to make this process as quick and seamless as possible. Incision sites will be tender and will require some very gentle attention to keep them clean, dry, and comfortable. The most important thing is to closely follow your doctor’s instructions for wound care and use only products that have been recommended by your doctor.
The Importance of a Clean Wound Covering
Following your procedure, a light dressing or bandage will be applied to the incision site. This will likely only need to be in place for the first few days post-op, but during this time, the bandage may need to be replaced frequently. The goal is to keep the wound as clean and dry as possible, and to protect it from potential friction.
Your wound might not look too bad, and you might be tempted to forego the bandage altogether. This isn’t a good idea. The purpose of the bandage is to protect your wound during the early days when it is still vulnerable to bacteria. A bandage can also protect your wound from injury – for example, accidentally brushing against a hard surface. Having a barrier in place that protects your wound simply makes sense.
Knowing When To Change a Bandage
If there is any fluid in the bandage, or the bandage gets wet, then it is time to put on a fresh one. If in doubt, put on a new bandage. You will be sent home with several to ensure that you have plenty on hand to last you until your next follow-up appointment. At a minimum, you will want to change your bandage once per day for the first few days post-op, or until your doctor instructs you that your wound no longer needs to be covered.
Cleanliness Is Key
When changing a bandage or making any contact with the area around your wound, it is very important to have clean hands. This will lessen the chance of introducing bacteria into the area. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before engaging in any wound care. Do not apply hand cream or anything else that could irritate your incision site.
The skin around the wound can be gently cleaned with a soft washcloth or gauze pad. Simply soak the gauze or cloth in soapy water or a saline solution and carefully dab the area around your stitches. You are not cleaning the cut itself, but the area around the cut. Don’t pull at the skin or do anything that might disrupt the stitches.
What Not To Use on a Wound
While a wound must be kept clean, using any harsh products on the area can do more harm than good. We do not recommend using commercial skin cleansers, antibacterial soaps, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or iodine. You may be given a gentle cleansing solution to use at home, but otherwise, a mild soap or saline solution is all you need.
It is also imperative that you do not use any lotions or creams near your wound, unless they have been specifically suggested by your doctor. Products such as Polysporin or herbal “healing” aids are not needed. If in doubt about what products to use for wound care, always check with your doctor first. Generally speaking, “less is more” when it comes to wound care.
Keeping the Wound Dry
You might feel like having a relaxing bath when you get home from surgery, but keeping your wound completely dry for the first 24 hours post-op is very important. This means no showers or baths until day 2, or until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. If you want to freshen up, a sponge bath is fine. In some cases, a shallow bath might be all right (for example, if your incision is on the face). Just don’t put yourself in a situation where water might splash onto your incision site.
Once you have the go-ahead to fully wash, in some cases it may be better to have a shower than a bath, since you do not want to soak your wound for an extended period. This will depend on where the wound is on your body. Soaking a wound will soften it and may cause it to re-open. When you get out of the shower, pat the area dry very gently with a clean towel.
Other Considerations for Wound Care
We have established that keeping your wound clean and dry is of the utmost importance, but there are also other considerations to think about as your wound heals. Being very careful with your incision site to limit friction and movement and avoiding direct sunlight are recommended if you wish to ensure the quickest healing possible without any longer-term scarring.
A surgical incision site is very delicate so it is best to avoid putting yourself in situations where any harm might come to it. Vigorous activity could potentially put your wound in harm’s way, causing it to re-open. Likewise, rushing about could cause you to bump into something or create friction against your wound. Ideally, you want the wound to be as undisturbed as possible until it has a chance to seal up.
Being still can be hard when you’re used to being active, but getting plenty of rest in the days following surgery is necessary for all aspects of your healing process to be optimal. Heavy lifting, sports, and some exercises will be out of the question for several weeks post-op. Following your doctor’s orders on this is important not only for wound healing but also for your overall recovery process.
Staying Out of The Sun
Until your wound is fully healed, direct sun exposure to the incision area should be avoided. UV light can cause a permanent scar to be left behind after the wound has healed. If you plan to be outdoors, make sure your wound is completely covered. Later, once the skin has healed, you may want to get in the habit of applying sunscreen to this area, at least until the scar has completely faded.
If a Wound Bleeds
Don’t panic if you notice a little blood coming from your incision site. Put on a fresh bandage and apply very light pressure for several minutes. In most cases this should be all that’s needed to stop the bleeding, but if you have any concerns, call the office right away. Being relatively still for the first few days post-op and avoiding unnecessary contact with the incision site is usually all that is needed to avoid bleeding.
When Will the Stitches Be Removed?
If you have dissolving stitches, these will disappear on their own in about 8-10 days. If regular stitches or staples have been used, these can normally come out by the second week post-op, but this will vary depending on the type of surgery you had. Removal of stitches is an in-office procedure that usually only takes a few minutes.
Will There Be Permanent Scarring?
The good news is that with proper care, wounds from cosmetic surgery should heal completely and will eventually be barely visible. A skilled plastic surgeon will always make sure that incisions go in the most inconspicuous place possible, so even if a slight pink or white line is left behind, it will not be noticeable to anyone. Your doctor might also recommend skincare products that can speed this process once the wound is completely healed.
Looking for More Information on Skin Healing?
If you are thinking about having a cosmetic procedure but are concerned about wound healing and potential scarring, you can rest assured that with some basic self-care, incisions heal very nicely. A reputable plastic surgeon will schedule multiple follow-up visits to ensure your wounds are healing properly. If you have questions about this or any other aspects of cosmetic surgery, contact us today at Veda Medical in Live Oak, TX.