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Wound Care


The longer the sutures are left in place, the more the formation of scar tissue is stimulated. The shorter they are left in place, the higher the chance of the wound opening up again. The correct time to remove the sutures is based on a comparative assessment of the two issues; there is usually a margin of a few days. Sutures in the face are generally removed within a week; in the hand or wrist only after a minimum of two weeks. Many other, personal factors, may influence the ideal time span; so keep to the term indicated by the doctor (which he may also change according to progression!). Sometimes, degradable sutures may be used.

Keep still

The less movement of the wound, the less chance of the wound edges being pulled apart. And the easier it is for your body to heal. However, not moving also causes swelling and joint stiffness. So take it easy, but keep the relevant part of the body moving as prescribed by the doctor. Make sure you do not exert yourself: this raises blood pressure and can cause subsequent bleeding.

Good circulation without swelling

Unsupported limbs will swell and be painful after an operation. An arm should be supported by a sling for a few days (except after the most minor of procedures), a leg should be elevated as much as possible. Always rest your foot on a bench or chair at the same level as your seat. Ideally, a foot should be rested in an elevated position, walking around is not as good and standing still even worse.


Do not smoke

Smokers heal slower and have a higher chance of the skin edges dying off. A blood vessel procedure can completely fail due to smoking. “Seriously cutting down” is insufficient; the first cigarette alone will cause the blood vessels to contract.

Dry and clean

Sutures are like motorways for microbes: as long as there are sutures in a wound, the wound should remain absolutely dry and clean. There are waterproof plasters which still allow showering. Having a wound sweat for hours inside a glove or plastic sack is not a good idea! An exception is a hairy scalp: you may usually wash this as early as two days after the procedure using disinfectant shampoo, however, only after explicit approval from your doctor.

Good check-ups, but not too many

An infected wound (e.g. as a result of an accident in an unclean environment, for instance after intestinal surgery) is riddled with germs and needs to be disinfected daily. It is best to also daily disinfect wounds on the soles of the feet or on the genitals. Most medical incisions, however, are performed on clean skin under extremely clean circumstances. Only normal microbes, which permanently live on the skin, will reappear on the skin afterward. Therefore, most procedures do not call for daily disinfecting. After all, disinfection does not only kill off germs, but also the frail, new skin cells needed to close the wound. Every act increases the risk of transferring other germs from your hands or instruments, into the wound. You should therefore have the doctor or nurse check the wound according to the guidelines, but do not feel called to rub it daily. A little fluid seeping through in the first few days or a coagulated blood clot are harmless.