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Advice following skin surgery

This leaflet explains how to take care of your wound(s) when you leave hospital.

Follow-up

You will be given a follow-up appointment on the day of your surgery only if necessary. Otherwise you will be informed about any necessary follow-up later by either telephone call or letter.

The first 24–48 hours after surgery

  • If there is a plaster leave it in place and keep the area dry and clean. If the plaster comes loose please re-tape it. If there is an additional "pressure bandage" this can be usually removed within 24 hours. If the dressing is waterproof a brief shower is allowed but not a bath
  • It is unlikely that your wound will bleed, but if this happens, don’t panic. If bleeding continues first apply firm pressure with a handkerchief over the wound for 10-15 minutes. If still bleeding apply an ice-pack for 15 minutes to the bandage (frozen peas in a plastic bag are effective and avoid wetting the bandage). In the unlikely event you have uncontrollable bleeding, call the Dermatology DayCare Department during office hours – 0208 321 5544 or your GP or attend the nearest A&E Department
  • If you have pain the local anaesthetic will begin to wear off about 60 minutes after the operation. Post-operative pain is usually mild. You may take Paracetamol containing pain killers. Avoid Aspirin (unless taking it in low doses already) as this may promote bleeding
  • If you have had sutures, gym or strenuous exercise should be avoided until stitches removed
  • Avoid swimming until the wound is healed

48 hours after surgery (curretage only)

  • Carefully remove the plaster. If it is very sticky try soaking it or apply hand sanitiser gel to soften it. After the plaster is off you may gently clean the sticky area with lukewarm water but avoid scrubbing or directing powerful shower jets on the area. Small wounds do not need plasters. Keep the area dry
  • Repeat this routine every day/other day until the wound has completely healed over
  • If you have a scab after curettage DO NOT try to remove it. Keep the area moisturised with e.g. Vaseline which will help to relieve any itching and promote healing

What is normal

  • The first couple of days your wound may be tender and may bleed slightly
  • There may be swelling and bruising around the wound, especially if near the eyes
  • The area around the wound may be numb for many weeks
  • You may experience episodic sharp pains as the area heals (but rare)
  • The wound line will look dark pink at first and the edges reddened. This will lighten day by day but it may take many months before the wound turns pale
  • With dissolving stitches under the skin you may be able to see and feel small bumps under the wound for several months where the knots are located

Seek medical help if:

Bleeding will not stop after applying pressure and ice; you have excessive pain;  you have signs of infection such as raised temperature, redness, swelling or a foul-smelling discharge from the wound.

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