Open Wound Care
Open wound care is an important part of the healing process after any surgery that does not involve sutured closure. Open wounds must be properly taken care of to prevent infection and ensure a smooth post-surgical recovery. At Atlanta Derm Surgery, we always teach open wound care to Atlanta patients following surgery.
The Importance of Open Wound Care
Open wound care is applicable to both incision- and excision-related wounds after surgery. Proper open wound care greatly improves the healing process, leading to faster healing and general recovery. It also keeps the wounds clean to help avoid infection.
Proper open wound care can minimize pain and discomfort experienced during the recovery and healing process. It also preserves the quality of results after surgery, leading to optimal appearance and functionality of the affected area.
General Open Wound Care Instructions
Although surgical wounds differ in size and depth, there are general open wound care instructions that can be applied to most situations:
- After surgery, go home and take it easy. Minimize bending or other exertion for several days.
- After 1-2 day/s, remove the dressing. You may bathe regularly at this point, and allow the wound to get wet.
- Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide. If there is any crusting or scabbing, soak the wound with peroxide and remove as much of the crusting by gently rubbing the wound with a moist Q-tip or washcloth.
- Apply ointment over the wound.
- Cover the wound with a Band-Aid or small dressing (non-stick gauze and paper tape).
- REPEAT THESE INSTRUCTIONS AT LEAST ONCE A DAY UNTIL THE WOUND HAS COMPLETELY HEALED. Small wounds may heal in 2-3 weeks. Larger wounds may take 4-5 weeks or more. After the wound is healed, you can stop daily dressing changes.
PAIN: take 1-2 Tylenols or the prescription pain medication as needed. Do not take any aspirin or aspirin-like products for at least 48 hours (unless you are on thinners for a medical condition such as a heart stent or stoke) as these may cause bleeding. Minimize alcohol intake 24 hours, Alcohol can increase bruising and may interact with your pain medication.
BLEEDING: Apply pressure to the area for 15minutes. Time it! Repeated “peeking to see if the bleeding is stopped” will only allow the bleeding to continue. If the bandage is saturated it may be replaced.
SWELLING: use ice packs-15 minutes at a time, 1-2 times an hour. A bag of frozen peas or other vegetable can be used. Swelling at the site may take months for final resolution. The cold packs are useful for the first day or two.
BRUISING: Bruising may take 10-14 days to completely resolve. If you develop a hematoma or severe bruising, it may take longer.
SCARRING: There are NO “magic” creams to reduce scarring healing. Don’t waste your time.
Hydrogen Peroxide (removes dried blood/scabbing)
Q-tips or other cotton tipped applicators
Ointment: Any of these: Vaseline, Polysporin, Bacitracin, or Neosporin ointment-note some people are allergic ointment (usually Mupirocin) you may use that.
Non-Stick Gauze Pads (brand name: Telfa)
Paper Tape (brand name: Microphone); Band-aids can be used if the site is small.
Additional Open Wound Care Tips
Not all kinds of surgery allow the patient to take care of their surgical wounds on their own. For major surgeries, patients will need assistance to take care of their needs, including open wound care, for the first few days or longer. If you will not be able to take care of yourself right after your surgery, you may need to hire a healthcare professional.
You must strictly follow the aftercare instructions provided. When physical activities are prohibited, you need to avoid them until allowed by your surgeon. If you do not, this can injure the already damaged tissues, prolonging the healing process for an open wound. It can also lead to infection.
If a follow-up appointment has been scheduled, it is important to attend this appointment. This will allow the surgeon to assess the progress of your open wound’s healing and adjust prescription and aftercare instructions accordingly.
***IN CASE OF EMERGENCY OR UNCONTROLLED BLEEDING***
Call (404) 844-0496 for instructions on contacting Dr. Baucom or Mina.