General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Care of the Incision

  • Your incisions are covered with a gauze pad. It is not uncommon for the pad to become saturated with blood during the first 24 hours. Do not become alarmed; just change the bandages as needed.
  • You can take a shower 24-36 hours after surgery.  Be sure to gently dry your incisions and replace the bandage.
  • After 2-3 days, it is not necessary to keep your incisions covered but it will usually make you more comfortable to do so as you increase your activity.
  • If you do not see metal clips or sutures, the sutures are in the skin itself and will dissolve. This occurs 3-4 weeks after surgery and may be associated with a little drainage from the incision.
  • It is common for patients to notice some black and blue or maroon discoloration around the incision. This represents a small amount of blood and is normal. It should not alarm you. It is also common for this to only become apparent 2-3 days after surgery as blood in the tissues moves to the surface.
  • Call the office if your incision is red, hot and tender;  you may have an infection.
  • You have been given antibiotics in the operating room prior to surgery. Unless discussed with you, you do not need them after surgery.
  • You may also notice black and blue discoloration near your incision. This is not cause for alarm, even if it occurs a few days after the surgery. It will usually resolve in 7 to 10 days.
  • It is normal for the incisions and the hernia site to be hard and swollen following surgery. This is called a healing ridge and represents wound healing. It is not a hernia and will go away in eight to twelve weeks.
  • Do not tan your incision for one year after surgery, as it will darken your scar.
  • Some people believe Vitamin A and Vitamin E applied to the incision helps wound healing. These can be obtained at a nature food or drug store.