Day After Surgery and Wound Care

When you have surgery or a biopsy for a skin condition, it is vastly important that you do your part to help the wound heal properly. Here are some important steps to follow in caring for your wound:

Cleaning It

Do not remove the bandage from the wound site for at least 24 hours after the surgery; sometimes this length of time will be longer according to your doctor’s recommendations. The bandage covering the wound will protect it and keep it moist and clean, and it will also help to prevent bleeding. After that point, you can remove the bandage carefully and gently cleanse the wound with water and a mild soap. Spraying water directly onto the area can hinder the healing process, so instead, let water run over it to rinse it. Do not completely immerse the wound in water until at least a week after the sutures have been removed. After it is rinsed, do not rub it but pat it dry using a gentle, soft towel or paper towel. Then apply a skin ointment such as Vaseline or Polysporin and re-bandage it for protection. This process should be repeated daily until the post-op appointment when the sutures are removed.

Keeping It Moist

Allowing a wound to form a scab usually indicates that the skin is too dry. A dry wound is far more likely to develop a scar. Keeping the wound moist will help it to heal more quickly and successfully so that the tissue remains strong. Generous application of skin ointments such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment and those listed above will keep the wound moist. You can apply these frequently to the area if necessary; continue until the tissue heals.

Exercise

Because exercise stretches and pulls at the skin, you’ll want to avoid moving that part of the body for at least three weeks following the surgery. Particularly in the first week after surgery, the tissue around a surgical wound is weak and needs time to heal. After three weeks of avoiding excessive movement and stretching of that area of the body, you can begin to move it again by slowly increasing the activity level to ease your body back into it.

Additional Day After Surgery Information

Bleeding

It is not uncommon for wounds to bleed. To stop bleeding, apply pressure with a folded towel for at least ten minutes, preferably twenty, without removing the towel to look. If the bleeding continues after this point, call your medical professional and continue to apply pressure.

Pain

Many people experience some pain, usually more discomfort than pain, in the hours and days following surgery. This will disappear as the wound heals, but in the meantime, be aware and take Tylenol to reduce pain. (Do not take Ibuprofen, as this is a blood thinner and can make the wound more likely to bleed.) You can also use ice packs to reduce any swelling. If swelling or pain increases, contact your doctor.

Infection

Infection of the wound site is unlikely, particularly if you continue to do your part to keep the wound clean after surgery. However, it is not unheard of and can be recognized by significant redness around the wound or the wound feeling hot or painful. Contact your dermatologist if you suspect that your wound has become infected.

Suture Removal

A few days or weeks after surgery, you’ll come in for a post-op appointment to remove the sutures. This can cause some discomfort but is usually painless.