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Incision Care ~ Tips for Great Wound Healing without a Prominent Surgical Scar

In this article, you can learn the best incision care at home, for optimal healing of your surgical scar.

'The treatments themselves do not 'cure' the condition, they simply restore the body's self-healing ability.' ~ Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O.

Surgical Wound Care at Home

The first rule is to always keep your wound clean and dry and don’t wash the incision until you are told to do so, usually about 48 hours after surgery. If you wash the incision earlier, you are running the risk of getting an infection in the wound ~ not a happy thing!

When you are allowed to wash your incision, never scrub it, but use a soft clean cloth to gently cleanse it.

If you are lucky enough to have absorbable sutures, they will dissolve and will not need to be removed. If you have regular, non-absorbable sutures, they will need to be removed and often are replaced with steri-strips, an adhesive-like tape to keep the incision intact. Or sometimes, both sutures and steri-strips are used.

Good incision care at home means never pulling off scabs, steri-strips, sutures or peeling skin around the incision. Let them fall off on their own. If you have steri-strips and they are peeling off and bothering you, you may trim off the edges only. Use a small, sharp scissors. Take care not to pull off the remaining steri-strip as you cut, because you may also pull off a scab underneath the steri-strip. A re-opening in the wound creates a portal for a potential surgical site infection.

If you have staples in your incision it will take longer for the wound to heal. Your physician or home health nurse will take them out after about a week or so at a follow-up visit. Incision care with staples is the same as with sutures or steri-strips. Leave them alone and wash the incision when the doctor says it is OK to do so.

It is not recommended that you soak your incision in a tub or go swimming until it is completely healed after several weeks. Follow the advice of your surgeon, who knows best what type of wound closures were used and how long it will take your incision to heal. 

When to Call the Doctor

You can help your health care providers with your incision care by watching for signs and symptoms of a potential wound infection or other problems with your incision. The following are symptoms that you should notify your surgeon of immediately:

  • Severe pain at the surgical site (8 or above, see Integrative Medicine, Post Procedure)
  • Bleeding at the surgical site
  • Oozing or pus at the surgical site
  • Redness or swelling at the surgical site that is painful to the touch
  • Fever

Never wait it out with these symptoms. This guideline will help you know when to call the doctor.

How to Avoid a Prominent Surgical Scar

Want to avoid an ugly surgical scar? Your incision care should include surgical scar prevention. An occupational therapist taught me these tips:

  • Use a vibrator on the healed incision several times a day. This breaks up the scar tissue and keeps the skin smooth. Don't laugh - it works!
  • Massage the scar with your fingertips as much as you can. As the incision heals, you will feel little lumps under it, as the scar tissue tries to form. This is what the vibration and massage is trying to break up. Keep working on these lumps.
  • Keep the incision out of the sun for the first full year, as the sun will cause permanent redness. Once the incision is healed, you can bathe it in the sun without further affects.
  • Finally, use a Vitamin E skin product on the scar several times a day as you do your scar massage. 

My own scar on the front of my neck is discernable only if you look really, really close! If you do your own personal incision care in this manner, you will be pleased with the results.

May your path to healing of your surgical scar be complete as you journey towards the health of your body-mind-soul!

Similar Articles You May Enjoy:

My Definition of Holistic Health

How to Prepare for a 15-minute Doctor Appointment

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Integrative Medicine and the Doctor Patient Relationship, Post-Procedure

Adrenal Exhaustion

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