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What is a Surgical Bandage?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A surgical bandage is found in most hospitals and drug stores. Consisting of a sterile gauze pad with a gauze covering, the surgical bandage is designed to cover a wound and protect it from becoming infected. Many surgical bandage designs contain an open area to cleanse the wound and drain excess fluids from an incision. The proper application of the surgical bandage is required for speedy healing. Many surgical bandage designs incorporate a non-stick pad to prevent adhesion to the wound as well; this also makes bandage changes much more pleasant for the patient.

The surgical bandage design has been produced in many forms. From low-quality gauze wraps to adhesive bandages, the surgical bandage traits such as non-stick pads and wide gauze coverings have been duplicated and flooded onto the marketplace. The need to cover and protect cuts and wounds has led to the purchase of home-use medical supplies all around the world.

The removal of a surgical bandage is a straight forward process; it is often done incorrectly, however. When removing a bandage, it is best to pull the skin away from the bandage and not vice versa. Pulling the bandage away from the wound may cause damage and further injury to the wound. When applying a bandage, great care should be taken to assure it is not applied too tightly. The bandage should be just tight enough to maintain its placement, but not so tight that it cuts off the circulation of blood to the affected area.

There are several means of fastening a bandage—from tape to metallic clips. The clip method allows frequent removal and inspection of the wound while making it possible to reuse the bandage. When taping a bandage in place, it often becomes necessary to cut the bandage to remove it. Any attempts to pull the tape loose may cause further injury to the wound.

The invention of the sterile surgical bandage is one of the most important medical advances of all time. The bandage has been credited with saving lives due to the ability to keep a wound clean and infection free. By covering a wound and still allowing fresh air to circulate over and around the affected area, the body's natural infection fighting traits are able to wage war with bacteria while promoting new healthy skin and flesh rejuvenation. The importance of a clean bandage is reinforced by the United States military, which sends one clean bandage into battle with every soldier who goes to war.

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Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On May 16, 2014
I use an absorbent surgical dressing/bandage because there is some discharge from my incision which the doctor said is normal. I just have to change the dressing regularly and keep the incision clean. The absorbent surgical dressing has been a savior really.
By ysmina — On May 16, 2014

@SteamLouis-- I agree with you, the gauze sticking to the wound can be an issue. But there are great new over-the-counter surgical bandages now that do no stick to the wound. They also protect the wound and allow it to breathe. They're also sterile so they keep the wound bacteria free and prevent infection.

Of course, if there is the option to have a medical professional apply and renew the bandages, that's best. But most times, wound care has to be done at home, especially after surgeries. So in these situations, it's best to have some non-stick sterile bandages at home.

By SteamLouis — On May 15, 2014

One issue with using surgical bandage at home is if any of the fabric touches a fresh wound and then dries, the wound is damaged while the bandage is removed. The dry blood and scabs peel off with the bandage and cause the wound to bleed again. This prolongs healing time and increases risk of scarring. It's also painful and unpleasant. So I think it's best to have this type of bandage applied and removed by a nurse.

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