Wound Care After Plastic Surgery

Choose the topic:

• Proper hygiene
• Changing dressings
• Wound care
• Red flags

Generally wound care after plastic surgery is similar to that of any other surgical incision. We will present some simple rules that help to prevent infection of the wounds, facilitate faster healing and therefore reduce scarring. However, you should always remember firstly adhere to your doctor’s advice.

Proper hygiene

Firstly, you should always wash your hands before changing or otherwise manipulating the dressing or touching the wound. You should wash your hands before taking the old dressing and then wash them again before applying a new one. It is important to take off any jewelry before washing your hands. The right way to clean your hands is to keep them pointing downwards under warm, running water, then to wash them thoroughly with alcohol based cleanser or soap for about 15 – 30 s. You should also make sure that you are using a clean towel and pay extra attention to cleaning dirt from under your nails. The use of clean (not sterile) disposable gloves is optional.

Changing dressings

The dressings should be kept clean, dry and should be changed every 1 – 2 days. Usually, the doctor will tell you to avoid taking baths and showers for the first 72 h. Before changing the dressing, prepare all the supplies you will need and make sure you are using a clean surface. Carefully remove the tape and then the dressing. If the dressing sticks because of the drainage and clotted blood, you may wet it with saline or distilled water unless your doctor forbids it. Then after cleaning the wound, you should put on new dressings, the way your doctor shows you. You should never reuse old dressings.

Wound care

It is important to avoid wearing tight clothes over the incision that would rub against it. You should also try to withhold from scratching and rubbing the wound as the site of the incision may be itchy for the first few days after the operation. The aim of cleaning the wound is to remove drainage and clotted blood that is an ideal source of nutrition for the bacteria. The procedure should be performed 2 times a day.

Frequent use of hydrogen peroxide solution should be avoided as it may facilitate even more scarring through irritation and skin cleansers, alcohol, iodine and antibacterial soaps should be avoided altogether. It is also strongly misadvised to put any lotions, creams or herbal remedies on the incision site without consulting your doctor. There are special gels that promote wound healing and reduce scar formation. Gels containing silicone and dimethicone have been shown to have this beneficial effect, while those with vitamin E, zinc and other additives have not. Nevertheless a diet rich in vitamins C, E, zinc and proteins is undisputedly beneficial for wound healing.

Red flags

To avoid complications, you should also pay attention to some of the following signs and consult your doctor as soon as you notice them:

  • Sings of inflammation (increasing redness, swelling, pain)
  • Increasing bleeding and drainage.
  • Opening of the wound due to failure of the sutures.
  • The wound starts to look dried out and dark.
  • Changes of the drainage indicating pus (increased thickness, grey, yellow or green color and a bad smell)
  • Your temperature is higher than 37.7 degrees Celsius for more than 4 hours.

A multitude of factors affect wound healing and scar formation. The most important of them are proper hygiene, keeping the wound in peace and protecting it from irritation and providing the healing organism with adequate amount of nutrients through protein and vitamin rich diet.