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Sutures and bandages are often used to aid in incision healing. The sutures should be left in until a medical professional removes them, and bandages should be changed daily to keep them clean and dry. It is also important to keep incisions clean, to minimize the risk of developing a serious infection. Incisions showing signs of an infection, such as discharge and swelling, should be examined by a medical professional.
The edges of most surgical incisions are held together with sutures, or stitches. Dissolving sutures, which are typically used on internal incisions, will usually dissolve on their own and require little to no aftercare. Traditional sutures, however, are usually removed a few days to two weeks after they are put in. Patients who have sutures should not attempt to remove sutures on their own. Suture removal should only be performed by a medical professional.
Bandages are also often placed over surgical incisions during incision healing. These should be kept clean and dry. Most patients are advised to change their bandages at least once each day, or any time they get wet with water, blood, or discharge.
During the incision healing process, an incision may also start to bleed. While a little bleeding may be normal, heavy bleeding is not. If blood from an incision soaks through the bandage, it should be removed, and a clean gauze pad should be firmly applied to the incision. Bleeding that does not stop within a few minutes should be reported to the patient's doctor.
Surgical incisions should also be kept dry the first couple of days after a surgical procedure. Most doctors will recommend avoiding showers and baths. To wash during this time, most patients will usually need to rely on sponge baths.
Baths should be avoided until the wound heals completely, since submerging the area in water can slow incision healing. Most patients, however, will usually be able to shower a couple days after a surgical procedure. Keeping an incision clean is very important, since this reduces the risk of developing a serious infection. To clean an incision, a patient can allow soapy water to run down onto it. Scrubbing or rubbing an incision is not usually recommended, since this can cause it to open up.
During the incision healing process, it is also important to watch the area closely for signs of an infection. Some redness around an incision is usually considered normal, but if this redness begins to spread, the incision should be checked by a doctor. Foul-smelling discharge and pus, along with pain and swelling, are also common signs of infection. The area may also feel very warm, and the patient will also usually have a fever.