Post-operative wound care instructions following minor skin surgery

Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY1202/2021
  • Departments: Maxillofacial Department

Introduction

This advice sheet has been produced to give you information about post-operative wound care following minor skin surgery. It is not meant to replace discussion between you and the healthcare team.  If after reading it, you require further explanation please discuss this with the healthcare team.

Following you procedure, the team will discuss with you how to look after the wound.

The first 24 – 48 hours

When the anaesthetic wears off it is common to feel some discomfort or soreness. This usually responds to simple pain relief medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. The team will discuss appropriate pain relief medication for you. You should avoid aspirin, unless this is something you already take regularly for another condition.

We recommend relaxing and taking things easy for the day. Any vigorous exercise or heavy lifting can raise your blood pressure and encourage bleeding. For this reason you should also avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours.

It is normal to see some blood staining on the dressing or around the stitches. If there is any active bleeding, sit down, press firmly onto the wound with either a clean handkerchief or tea towel, or with the gauze you have been provided with. You should apply constant pressure for 20 mins before checking if bleeding as stopped. If you have any concerns, please use the contact numbers at the end of this leaflet to seek advice. 

What else to expect

Bruising and swelling is normal and can take a few days to fully develop. This will be slightly different for each patient and depends partly on where the lesion has been removed from. The bruising can take up to 2 weeks to fully settle.

Please keep the wound dry for at least 48 hours. If you wish to bath or shower after this, do not soak the area under water for a long period. Gently pat the area dry and re-apply any dressing or ointment you have been given.

The stitch line / scar will look red at first. In time this will fade though can take several months. Scars often fade in with the natural creases of the skin over time. There may be some numbness or altered sensation over the wound. This can take many months to recover, or sometimes there can be some altered sensation to the skin in the long term. 

Is there anything I need to do?

We ask you to keep the area clean and dry as far as possible. Often, you will be given an ointment to rub over the stitches, and we ask you to do this twice a day.

This helps to prevent infection and makes it easier to remove the stitches.

We do not routinely prescribe medication, however if you have been prescribed any other medication, such as antibiotics, by the surgeon, the reasons will be explained to you.

Often the stitches or dressings need removed in 7-14 days. The team will tell you when the best timing is in your case. If appropriate an appointment will be made for you to return to the department for this, or you may be able to have this done at your own doctor’s practice.

Signs of infection to look out for

Infection is uncommon. However, signs to look out for include the wound becoming more hot and red. There may be increased pain and swelling, and you may see some crusting or leaking from the wound. You may feel generally unwell, or hot and sweaty. If this happens, please contact us on the numbers below, or you own doctor.

Some of information included in this advice sheet has been provided by the https://www.baoms.org.uk/patients/procedures/

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this advice sheet, please do not hesitate to contact the Maxillofacial Unit (01482) 463218
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