Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Incision Care After Surgery
After surgery, you will need to
take care of the incision as it heals. Doing so may limit scarring, may help you avoid pain or discomfort, and may help lower the risk of problems like infection.
Your doctor used either stitches,
staples, tissue glue, or tape strips to close the incision. And you will need to keep the
area clean, change the dressing according to your doctor's instructions, and
watch for signs of infection.
the risk of infection:
You may notice some soreness, tenderness, tingling,
numbness, and itching around the incision. There may also be mild oozing and
bruising, and a small lump may form. This is normal and no cause for concern.
Call your doctor if you notice signs of an infection, such as:
Before you start, make sure
you have gauze pads, a box of medical gloves, surgical tape, a plastic bag, and
To clean the incision:
Stitches or staples normally cause some redness and swelling where the
stitch enters the skin, along with mild irritation and itching. Some drainage
from the incision may be expected for the first few days after surgery. But if
the discharge does not decrease after a few days, becomes bright red with
blood, or contains pus, contact your doctor.
The incisions may be
protected with tissue glue or small adhesive strips (such as Steri-Strips) instead of a
dressing or bandage. If glue was used, be sure to dry the incision area right away if it gets wet. The glue will fall off on its own after a bit of time. If adhesive strips were used, leave them
in place until they become loose or fall off on their own.
surgeries, you may be given special instructions other than these for taking
care of the incision. Be sure to follow those instructions carefully. If you
are confused by the instructions or you have a question, call your doctor's
office. If the office is closed, leave a message with the answering service. If
your pain has increased or you suspect you may have an infection, call your
doctor as soon as possible.
Don't expose your incision to direct sun for 3 to 9 months after surgery. As an incision heals, the new skin that is formed over the cut is very sensitive to sunlight and will burn more easily than normal skin. Bad scarring could occur if you get sunburn on this new skin.
Other Works Consulted
Frey R (2009). Incision care. In B Narins, ed., Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery and Medical Tests: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers, 2nd ed., vol. 4, pp. 835–838. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMichel M. Murr, MD - General Surgery, Bariatric Surgery
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Michel M. Murr, MD - General Surgery, Bariatric Surgery
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