After an operation, post-surgery skin healing is important to increase healing time, as well as keeping the incision free from infection. There are three steps to an incision healing process: inflammation, in which blood flow is increased to the wound area for a short period of time; proliferation, when blood vessels begin to form near the incision and regenerate under dead skin tissue; and maturation, when the incision begins to heal and create scar tissue.
Any dressing such as gauze or adhesive should be kept in place for as long as the doctor recommends. Dressings can be left on the incision area for approximately five days, as long as it is completely dry and there are no signs of blood or pus, which may indicate an infection.
Before removing any dressings from the skin, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap to prevent any transfer of bacteria to the wound site. Never touch the incision directly, since that too may cause infection.
After the initial gauze or dressing is removed, you may leave the wound uncovered if advised by the doctor. Some keep protective gauze in place to protect the site and keep it clean. If your incision is in a location that rubs against clothing, re-apply gauze for protection. Any time you replace a dressing, be sure to not touch the area that will go against the wound.
There are two types of stitches used often in surgery: non-dissolvable and dissolvable. If the surgeon uses dissolvable stitches, they will disappear on their own within one or two weeks. Non-dissolvable stitches are removed by the surgeon when necessary depending on the incision, but usually after one week.
Leave incision site alone, especially sutures. If there are ends that catch on clothing, you may trim them if necessary with a cleaned pair of scissors. If you are not comfortable with trimming loose ends, cover the sutures with an adhesive or gauze bandage to prevent irritation. See the doctor if the sutures are causing discomfort.
After surgery, it is important to keep your body clean to avoid infections. Usually, 24 hours after a surgery, a doctor will allow you to take a shower or bath, depending on the operation.
In addition, depending on the doctors advice, showers are preferred over baths so the incision does not soak in water. If the incision is somewhere that may be kept out of water, baths are acceptable. Dressings should be removed from the incision unless otherwise noted by a nurse or doctor; however, waterproof dressings may be left alone.
Avoid the use of lotions, gels, or soaps around the incision area. Running water may come into contact with the incision, but never rub the area, which may prevent proper healing. Once bathing is over, pat the wound area gently to remove excess water and then allow to air dry. Add a new dressing to the area if necessary.
Most incisions heal well within a few weeks of the surgery; however, healing make take longer if there are infections. Bacteria may get into the incision, causing it to inflame, or become filled with pus. In that event, go to the doctor to get an antibiotic that will destroy bacteria growth.
Avoid smoking after a surgery to reduce the risk of infection.
Even if you are careful when cleaning the incision, bacteria may still get into the wound. Look for signs of infection such as pus, blood, inflammation, pain in the incision site or any unpleasant odors. In the event you are suffering from any of these symptoms, get checked by a doctor or nurse to receive necessary help.