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How Do I Recover from a Pfannenstiel Incision?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Pfannenstiel incision recovery should include rest, a reduction in physical activity for around six weeks after surgery, and precautionary measures to support and protect the abdomen. This incision provides access to the mid-pelvis, and is most commonly used for a Caesarian section, although certain other gynecological procedures can call for this type of incision as well. Patients in recovery need to be careful about lifting heavy weights and engaging in physical activity while the underlying tissues heal. They should also be alert for signs of infection and other complications.

After surgery, patients may spend several days in the hospital being monitored. This can provide an opportunity to treat the patient if signs of infection and other complications emerge, and it also offers better pain control. Once patients are cleared for release, they can receive some medications and directions for Pfannenstiel incision care at home. It’s important to have support from family members or paid assistants, especially in the first few days.

At home, patients should plan on spending time relaxing to allow the incision to start healing. It’s important to walk around to promote circulation and prevent blood clots, but bending, heavy lifting, and robust physical activity are not advised. For women who have just delivered, lifting anything heavier than the baby is not recommended. It is also a good idea to support the Pfannenstiel incision with towels or the hands when coughing, breastfeeding, or engaging in other activities that might strain the abdomen.

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Drinking plenty of fluids can help. It’s also important to take pain management medication as directed, because pain can cause muscles to contract, potentially lengthen healing time. Patients may be given stool softeners to use so they don’t strain on the toilet, which can tear the Pfannenstiel incision. It is also advisable to clean the surgical site regularly with warm water and mild soap, gently patting around the area to clean and dry, following with a fresh bandage. After several weeks, gentle massage can promote healing and limit the formation of adhesions.

Staying alert to the signs of infection around the Pfannenstiel incision is also important. If the incision becomes hot, puffy, or red, this should be discussed with a doctor or nurse. Likewise if it develops a smelly or thick discharge. Patients who experience fevers, headaches, and disorientation may also have infections. Getting a medical evaluation can be important, and patients shouldn’t be shy about reporting side effects.

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