Proper Wound Care is Critical to a Swift Recovery

January 25, 2017

Although surgical complication rates have decreased dramatically over the past several decades, the most common patient issue after a surgical procedure is infection. While there are a multitude of causes of infection, improper wound care after the patient returns home from the hospital is a significant one.

Improper wound care can also lead to worsened scarring and a longer recovery period. It is important to remember that discharge from the hospital is simply an acknowledgement that the patient no longer needs constant monitoring – it does not mean that the risks of surgery are over.

At discharge, every patient will receive a post-surgical packet that includes instructions on how to change dressings and avoid common aftercare issues. Some practical tips include:

  • Ensure that you or anyone working with your incisions has thoroughly washed their hands before touching them. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Ideally, use anti-bacterial hand soap and sterile gloves. Instant hand sanitizer is not an acceptable alternative
  • Do not scrub, scratch or rub the wound
  • Change the dressing as advised in your post-surgical packet. Leaving a dressing on for too long can be detrimental to healing. Monitor the wound site for signs of infection
  • Always use a clean dressing when the old one is removed. While this may seem obvious, many patients lift or quickly remove their dressing to peek at the incision. Any time the gauze comes off, it should be replaced
  • Do not use any topical creams, lotions or powders on the wound unless expressly told to do so in your post-surgical packet
  • Do not remove the steri-strips (tape strips under the gauze) from the wound – these usually fall off on their own and act to assist in keeping the incision closed. They will also help with aesthetics
  • Begin showing according to your post-operative packet and do not immerse the wound in water for three weeks or according to your post-op instructions – this includes baths or swimming

Thoughts and Considerations

One of your incisions may open up after the steri-strips fall off. This is not uncommon and while it warrants a call to our office, a Band-Aid may be all that’s needed to correct the issue.

You may also feel some tugging, pulling or minor discomfort at the incisions sites for weeks or even months after surgery. This is most likely due to the scar tissue that forms shortly after surgery. This may be heightened by increased activity.

When to call us

Most importantly, look out for the telltale signs of infection or anything strange and unusual at the wound site. This may include (but is not limited to) constant, thick yellow/green and/or foul smelling discharge. Other signs of infection include fever, significant, or increasing pain and/or bleeding in the incision area, redness surrounding the incision site and more.

Be mindful that these instructions are common to most laparoscopic procedures. However, your particular surgery may have individualized instructions that must be followed. We look forward to working with you to help ensure the safest most effective surgical procedure possible.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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