Surgery Post Operative Care
Information for Surgery (with stitches)
There should be no strenuous activity involving the surgical area for 8 weeks.
1. Do not use aspirin or alcoholic beverages for 24 hours. May use Tylenol, extra strength Tylenol, or Ibuprofen.
2. It is recommended you leave the dressing on for 48-72 hours depending on where the site is. Taking it off early could result in damage to your surgical site.
3. Remove the dressing 48-72 hours after surgery as directed by nurse/doctor.
4. Gently cleanse the wound with a Cetaphil cleanser or gentle fragrance free soap. Do not use antibacterial soap. Rinse well. If you have well water, you will want to rinse with distilled water.
5. Pat the wound dry and apply Polysporin Antibiotic Ointment (an over the counter product) 1-2 times a day for 10 – 18 days. It’s recommended you keep a band-aid or dressing over the area. This keeps the ointment where it should be and it also protects your clothing from the ointment. After the sutures have been removed, please apply Polysporin Ointment 1 time a day for the next week. (We do not recommend Neosporin or Bacitracin Ointment.)
6. The wound should not be allowed to dry out at any point. Do not let it dry out! Keep it moist with the Polysporin. It is best to have the ointment on at all times. Keep the wound covered. This keeps the site moist to promote optimal and rapid healing. Do not use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine or other OTC products on the healing wound as they could compromise the wound healing.
7. Bleeding can occur following surgery. To reduce the possibility of bleeding, please limit strenuous activities for at least 48 hours. Keep the operative site elevated. If surgery was done on the face, head or neck avoid stooping or bending, avoid straining and keep your head and shoulders elevated on extra pillows. Should minor bleeding occur, apply firm, constant pressure for 15-20 minutes. It is not unusual for mild, non-bloody drainage to occur up to 48 hours after surgery. It’s also recommended that you eat Pineapple. If possible start the day before your procedure and continue for 5 days after. Pineapple limits bruising and aids in healing!
8. Swelling occurs after surgery. This happens as a result of your body’s reaction to the surgery. To reduce swelling apply an ice bag for 20 minutes each hour during the waking hours. If you do not have an ice bag, a ‘baggy” filled with cracked ice, or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel will work very well. You may also take Advil/Motrin/Ibuprofen 200mg., 2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. (Avoid these medicines if you have stomach problems, a history or ulcers or are on blood thinners. I.e. Coumadin.)
9. If the nurse has placed steri strips on your wound, you should leave them on until they fall off. The edges may be trimmed to keep it from catching on clothing. Put the Polysporin ointment on top of the strips.
10. Some people get itchy bumps or blisters around the wound site. This is usually due to an allergy to the antibiotic ointment. Stop the antibiotic ointment, use cool compresses, and vaseline. If needed you may use 1% Hydrocortisone twice daily. This is available OTC at any drug store.
11. If your wound becomes more swollen, red, hot, or if you have drainage that looks like pus, or if you suffer from increased pain to your wound site, please call your doctor. This is noticed 3-5 days after surgery. Please notify the office if you see red streaks around the wound or if you have a fever greater than 100.5 degrees F. Do not wait for your regularly scheduled appointment to report these symptoms to your doctor. You may have an infection and require an antibiotic. If you have these symptoms, your doctor may ask you to come to the office for an evaluation of the wound.
12. Strenuous and high impact exercise involving the wound area should not be done for 8 weeks after the surgery. No lifting over 5 lbs. For 2 weeks, and then no lifting over 10 lbs. For the following 4 weeks. If you have any questions regarding stress on the wound, please call the office. A freshly healed wound that is only a few months old can be easily reopened with minor trauma. Even after many years the strength of human scars is far less than normal tissue.
13. Do not take tub baths or go swimming for 1 week. Avoid hot spas or hot tubs for 3 weeks.
14. After the sutures are removed, it is good to apply a good moisturizer to the area.
15. To help your excision site look its’ best, it’s recommended you use silicone tape to your surgical site 2-4 times a day. You should start this as soon as the sutures are removed and the site is closed.
16. All excisions on arms and legs should be wrapped, and butterfly band aids applied to all excision sites for 4-6 weeks and then paper tape for 6 weeks.
17. Sunscreens should be applied to any surgical site exposed to the sun for a minimum of 3 months after the procedure.
18. Surgical procedures on the scalp and upper face are more likely cause swelling of the eyes and possible black eye(s). Iced compresses and sleeping with the head elevated help to minimize these potential side effects.
19. It is normal for the legs to heal more slowly. Legs also heal slower as we age.
20. Should you have any questions or problems with infection, pain or discharge, please call our office at 436-1117.
* Remember that all scars are at risk to spread. It’s very important to follow the postoperative instructions.
*Studies have shown that tape applied across the excision site will help minimize the scar. The tape when applied, it is kept in place for up to 7 days. The tape should be used for 12 weeks.
What Affects The Way My Skin Heals After Surgery?
- There are different factors that affect the skin and how it heals after surgery. They include care of the skin following surgery, your general state of health, genetics, other medications you might be taking, and the location on the body where the surgery was performed.
- It takes the skin about a year to regain its full strength after surgery. You must care for the surgical site carefully. Leave the pressure dressing on for the recommended amount of time. Stretching- especially rapid stretching, lifting and even coughing can increase the amount of scarring and in extreme cases cause separation.
- Each patient has a different genetic makeup. Some people heal with keloids (a raised, spreading scar), hypertrophic scars (a raised scar), and some genetic diseases tend to heal with widened scars. The thickness of your skin and amount of normal bacteria on your skin can also play a role in how well you heal.
- Good health is vital to proper healing of the skin. It is important to maintain a healthy diet, including vitamins (a multi-vitamin with minerals) and protein. Oxygen speeds healing so exercising is good so long as you don’t involve the surgical site. In general, younger patients heal better than older patients and patients with diseases like diabetes will not heal as well as others. The legs of older patients and those with varicose veins do not heal as well. *Stress can slow down wound healing.
- Avoid swimming pools for at least one week and hot tubs for 3 weeks following your surgery due to the risk of infection. An infection could cause the surgical site to open up, delaying your return to full health.