Close look on an incision

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An incision is defined as a cut in the skin created during a surgical procedure. The location, size and number of incisions are based on the type of surgery performed.

Generally, a dressing is placed to protect an incision from bacteria as well as keeping it dry and clean. The dressings must be changed daily or based on the instructions given by the doctor.

How is a surgical wound closed?

An incision is sealed close with the help of staples, tissue glue, stitches, or a specialized form of adhesive tape. Once closed, a sterile dressing is applied to protect the incision.

Proper care for an incision

An incision should be kept dry and clean. Correct care for incisions ensure proper healing, lessen scarring and lowers the risk of infection. It is vital to follow the instructions given by the doctor.

Some of the general measures in caring for an incision include:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly before and after touching an incision.
  • Check the incision daily for indications of infection.
  • In case an incision starts to bleed, cover it with a clean towel or tissue and place direct and continuous pressure for at least 5 minutes. Once the bleeding stops, remove the soaked dressing, clean the wound and place new dressing. If the blood flow could not be controlled after a few minut
    Always wash hands thoroughly before and after touching an incision.

    es, continue to place direct pressure and get in touch with a doctor or bring the individua to the nearest emergency department.

  • Avoid any tight or constricting clothes that can rub against the incisions.
  • As the wound heals, itchiness is expected. Avoid scratching the site. In case the itchiness worsens, a doctor should be consulted since it might be an indication of an infection or the stitches might be too tight.
  • If stitches or staples were used to seal the wound, the individual can wash or shower 24 hours after surgery unless instructed otherwise by the doctor. Wash the site using water and mild soap and carefully pat dry using a clean towel. The staples are removed once the wound has fully healed. As for stitches, some dissolve over time while others require removal by a doctor.
  • If Steri-Strips were used, clean the site using water and mild soap and pat dry gently. Avoid pulling, tugging or rubbing the strips. The strips will eventually fall off on their own within 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, any leftover strips can be gently removed.
  • In case tissue glue was used to seal an incision, it should be kept dry and out of direct exposure to sunlight. In most cases, the glue will dry and fall off within 5-10 days.

With proper care, an incision can heal properly and prevent an infection from developing. Generally, incisions heal within 2 weeks, but complex surgical wounds take longer.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on an incision is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn how to properly manage this type of wound, register for a first aid and CPR course with Red Deer First Aid.

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