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Surgery: What to Expect

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After Surgery


Incision care

Your home-care instructions will include how to take care of your incision. The instructions will explain:

  • The best way to bathe and protect your wound, such as how to cover the area if needed and when it is safe to shower and let the incision get wet.
  • How to care for and change your surgical dressing.
  • What clothing to wear to avoid rubbing your incision area.
  • What symptoms to look for that may be a problem. Signs of a skin infection, such as a fever, increased pain, or increased drainage, need to be checked by your surgeon. Mild swelling and redness around the incision area is normal after surgery.


Your instructions will include when to have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon. Your surgeon will want to talk to you before your follow-up appointment if:

  • You aren't sure about your home-care instructions. Ask right away if you have any questions about wound care or drainage.
  • You develop a symptom or problem that you don't know how to handle.
  • You develop an unexpected symptom or problem.
  • You aren't able to take your medicines.

When should you call your surgeon?

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have these symptoms:

Your recovery from surgery may be different from what your surgeon expected. Other symptoms or problems may develop after your surgery, even when you follow your surgeon's instructions. This can be very frustrating.

Be sure to call your surgeon if you have an unexpected symptom or problem, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting. If you aren't able to keep fluids down, you may become dehydrated.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Pain that doesn't go away after you take your pain medicine.
  • A temperature higher than 101°F (38°C).
  • Difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement.
  • Loose stitches or an open surgical wound.
  • Pus draining from your wound or red streaks.
  • A rash.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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