After surgery is over, most patients have queries about how to take care of an incision. Incision care is not difficult, but proper incision care is absolutely essential for preventing infection and other side effects.
What is an incision?
An incision is a cut through the skin made during surgery which is also known as surgical wound. The size, location, and number of incisions depend upon the surgery.
How are incisions closed?
Incisions are held closed using stitches, staples, tissue glue, or a special kind of adhesive tape called Steri-Strips. A sterile dressing covers the incisions.
Caring for Wounds with Stitches:
Clean & Bandage the wound:
- Leave the initial bandage in place and keep the area completely dry.
- Clean with tap water twice a day.
- After cleaning apply white petrolatum like Vaseline or bacitracin to keep the area moist.
Limit Physical Activity:
- Avoid vigorous physical activity while the stitches are in place like heavy lifting, running, and other sporting activities.
- Avoid activities that affect the area with stitches.
- Do not put the stitches completely under water. This means stop swimming and bathing kind of activities. In the shower, the area can be exposed to running water for a few minutes each day.
Do not smoke for at least two weeks after your skin surgery. If you smoke after your skin surgery, you have a greater risk of infection and poor wound healing. This can result in excessive scarring.
If you have bleeding from the wound, then elevate the area and apply constant pressure to the wound with a clean gauze or cloth. You should hold pressure for some time. If bleeding continues, then repeat the above procedure but use an ice pack over the cloth to hold pressure.
If you have more swelling, elevate the area and apply an ice pack for fifteen minutes out of every hour while awake.
Excessive redness, swelling, pain or drainage from the wound is a sign of infection. If you notice any of these signs, then contact the doctor immediately.