Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms allergic reaction dehiscence hematoma infection Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care expectations pain control warning signs Underlying Cause Types

Wound Complications Post Operative Home Care

Home care for post operative wounds includes:

  • Perform wound care as directed by your doctor.
  • Clean the wound each time the dressing is changed.
  • Clean the skin gently:
    • Use mild soap and water.
    • Do not scrub the skin.
    • Dry the skin.
  • Do not use skin cleansers: these can harm the delicate skin.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Apply a bandage.
  • Keep clothing off the skin surface.
  • Take prescribed medicines as directed.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:

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.

Wound Complications Post Operative Pain Control

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with a post operative wound complication include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Wound Complications Post Operative Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a post operative wound and develop any of the following:

Continue to Wound Complications Post Operative Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Dec 23, 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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