Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Wound Complications Post Operative Expectations

Expectations for post operative wound complications include:

  • For the first day or two, do not move the affected area too much in order to avoid causing bleeding. The pressure of the bandage should help to prevent bleeding.
  • A small amount of blood on the dressing is normal. If bleeding seems persistent, apply pressure firmly and steadily over the dressing for 10 to 15 minutes. This will usually stop the bleeding but if it does not, call the doctor promptly.
  • Post-operative pain usually resolves within the first week following surgery but you may experience discomfort in and around the wound as it heals over the next several weeks.
  • There may be swelling and bruising around the wound, especially if the surgery involved your face or the area around your eyes.
    • To minimize this, you may apply an ice pack over the dressing every 2 to 3 hours for 10 to 15 minutes for 24 hours after the surgery.
  • The wound may feel numb for up to several weeks, but this almost always resolves with time.
  • After surgery, the suture line and wound edges will appear pink to red in color but the area will lighten every day. Once the sutures are removed, the incision line and suture marks will continue to fade over weeks to months.

Continue to Wound Complications Post Operative Pain Control

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Wound Complications Post Operative References
  1. Amland PF, Andenaes K, Samdal F, Lingaas E, Sandsmark M, Abyholm F, Giercksky KE. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a single dose of azithromycin on postoperative wound infections in plastic surgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1995 Nov;96(6):1378-83. [7480237]
  2. Beiner JM, Grauer J, Kwon BK, Vaccaro AR. Postoperative wound infections of the spine. Neurosurg Focus. 2003 Sep 15;15(3):E14. [15347232]
  3. Picada R, Winter RB, Lonstein JE, Denis F, Pinto MR, Smith MD, Perra JH. Postoperative deep wound infection in adults after posterior lumbosacral spine fusion with instrumentation: incidence and management. J Spinal Disord. 2000 Feb;13(1):42-5. [10710149]
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