Skip to main content Skip to site map link

 Caring for Your Incision

Gauze Bandages

While you are in the hospital, your nurse will teach you how to take care of your incision at home after surgery. Once your incision is dry, it can be left open to the air.  If you still need to change your bandages after leaving the hospital, your nurse will help to arrange for VON or Home Care Nova Scotia to send a nurse to your home. 

The site of your incision is held together with sutures, staples or steri-strips. Sutures are a needle and thread stitch that holds the tissue together. Staples are metal clips that hold the edges of your skin together while your skin is healing. Steri-strips are like paper tape.

If you have staples, you will need to remove them 10 to 14 days after surgery.  Your nurse may give you staple removers to take with you to the family doctor, or instructions if you need to return to your surgeon to have them removed. If you have steri-strips over the incision, you should just leave them alone, as they will fall off on their own.

Safety tips for caring for your incision:

  • Ask your occupational therapist, nurse, surgeon, or doctor when you can start to shower again.
  • Do not soak in the bath until your occupational therapist, nurse, surgeon, or doctor says it’s okay to do so.
  • Do not rub creams or ointments on your incision without checking with your health care team first.
  • Do not pick at any dry areas, scabs or blisters at or around your incision site.

While it is normal to have some redness and clear drainage from your wound, you should watch for signs of infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Infection 

  • The area around your incision is becoming red, and the redness is spreading.
  • Green, yellow or smelly pus is coming from your incision site. It is common for fluids to drain for 3-5 days after surgery. However, this should stop, and your incision should remain dry.
  • Increased pain or swelling occurs around the incision and surrounding area.

Your temperature rises above 38°C or 101°F. Signs of a fever may include chills, sweating and headaches.