After surgery, incision care

You will need to care for the incision after surgery. This will help reduce scarring, pain, discomfort and lower the chance of infection.

The incision was closed by your doctor using either staples, tissue glue or tape strips. You will need to clean the incision and follow your doctor’s instructions to change the dressing. Also, be sure to monitor for signs of infection.

Tips to reduce the chance of infection

To lower the chance of infection

  • Ask your doctor how long the area should be kept dry. Follow the instructions of your doctor.
  • Every day, examine the incision and check for signs of infection. (See below).
  • Your doctor may recommend that you change the dressing.


  • Incisions can be scrubbed or rubbed.
  • Unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise, remove the tape strips (such Steri-Strips).
  • Apply lotion or powder to incisions.
  • Exposed incisions to the sun.
  • If you cannot keep the incision clean, don’t take a bath. Instead, you can take a shower or sponge bath until your doctor allows you to take a bath. Cover the dressing with a plastic bag before you shower.

There may be tenderness, tenderness or numbness around the incision. You may also notice mild swelling and bruising. A small lump could also form. This is normal and not a cause for concern.

Infection signs

If you have symptoms of infection, call your doctor.

  • An increasing yellow or green discharge
  • Changes in the odor of the discharge
  • An incision that is larger than usual.
  • The surrounding area may become reddened or harder.
  • The incision feels hot to the touch.
  • Fever.
  • Unusual or increasing pain
  • Excessive bleeding has soaked through your dressing.

Change a dress

Before you begin, ensure you have gauze pads and a box of surgical gloves. Also, keep a bag with plastic bags, scissors, and medical tape. Then:

  1. Open the gauze packets and cut new tape strips to prepare supplies
  2. Hands. Use medical gloves.
  3. Remove the tape from the old dressing.
  4. Take off the old dressing.
  5. If your doctor has instructed you to clean the incision, do so. (See the instructions below.)
  6. Examine the incision carefully for signs of infection.
  7. Place a clean, sterilized gauze pad at the corner of the incision and cover it with the pad.
  8. Tape the gauze pad on all four sides.
  9. Place all trash in a bag. Remove your gloves last.
  10. Place the plastic bag in a sealed container and dispose of it.
  11. Wash your hands.

Clean an incision

Clean the incision

  • To remove the crust, gently wash it with soapy water.
  • Do not wash or soak the wound.
  • Avoid using rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or iodine. These substances can cause tissue damage and slow down wound healing.
  • Before applying the dressing, air dry or dry the incision with a towel.

Stitches, staples, tissue glue or adhesive strips are to be taken care of

Stitches and staples can cause redness and swelling at the site where they enter the skin. This is usually accompanied by mild irritation and itching. For the first few days following surgery, some drainage may be expected. Consult your doctor if the discharge persists after a few days or becomes reddened with blood, or contains pus.

Instead of using a bandage or dressing, you can protect the incisions with tissue glue or small adhesive strips (such Steri-Strips). If glue was used to protect the incisions, dry it immediately if it becomes wet. After a while, the glue will begin to fall off. Use adhesive strips if you use them. They will eventually become loose or fall off by themselves.

Additional incision care tips

You may receive additional instructions for care after some procedures. Follow these instructions very carefully. Call your doctor if you are unsure or if you have any questions. If the office closes, leave a message for the answering service. Call your doctor immediately if your pain is severe or you suspect that you have an infection.

For 3 to 9 months, avoid exposing your incisions to the sun. The new skin that forms over an incision is more sensitive to sunlight than normal and can burn faster once it heals. If you get sunburned on the new skin, it could cause severe scarring.

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