Remember: Follow-up visits allow your doctor to make sure your incision is healing well. Be sure to keep your appointments.
Sutures (stitches) or surgical staples are used to close incisions. They also help stop bleeding and speed healing. Instead of sutures, your wound may have been closed with special strips of tape called Steri-Strips. Treat these the same way you would sutures. To help your incision heal, follow the tips on this handout.
Avoid doing things that could cause dirt or sweat to get on your incision.
Don’t pick at scabs. They help protect the wound.
Keep your incision out of water. Bathe or shower only as directed.
To keep the wound dry when around water, cover it with a plastic bag or plastic wrap. You could also use rubber gloves to protect sutures on a hand.
If sutures get damp, pat them dry.
Leave the dressing (bandage) in place until you are told to remove it or change it. Change it only as directed, using clean hands.
After the first 12 hours, change your dressing every 24 hours.
Change your dressing if it gets wet or soiled.
Increased soreness, pain, or tenderness after 24 hours
A red streak, increased redness, or puffiness near the wound
White, yellowish, or bad-smelling discharge from the wound
Bleeding that can’t be stopped by applying pressure
Steri-Strips fall off or stitches dissolve before the wound heals
Fever above 101.0°F
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