The type of dermatology procedure you undergo will determine the specific requirements for post-operative care. Your doctor can provide post-op instructions for dermatology surgery to ensure a smooth recovery and minimize your chance of complications. Carefully follow any directions you are given by your dermatologist. In addition, reading through these general guidelines for post-op care can help you prepare for your procedure and recovery.
What to Expect after Surgery
After a surgical procedure, it is important to keep the treated area clean and use any prescribed ointments or creams. Most dermatology surgery is minor and requires little to no downtime. However, the exact nature of your recovery will depend on the type of treatment and the natural healing process of your body.
The First Few Days
Keep the Area Dry
For at least the first 24 hours, leave your dressings in place and keep the area dry. Your dermatologist will advise you when to begin changing your bandages.
Wait 24 Hours to Shower
Typically, patients are able to shower or bathe about 24 hours after surgery. However, you should keep the surgical area as dry as possible until advised otherwise.
Clean the Treated Area
After 24 hours, you can also begin to clean the treatment site. Make sure to wash your hands before beginning. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on the best way to care for the wound. Clean the area daily until your dermatologist says otherwise.
Use Prescriptions as Directed
Your dermatologist may provide you with medicated ointments or other prescriptions to use as you heal. Use all provided medications as directed. Most patients can manage their discomfort using over-the-counter pain medications. However, you should avoid aspirin and other medications which thin the blood.
Special Considerations throughout Your Recovery
After skin surgery, you should avoid swimming or other activities where the treatment area is immersed in water. You should also plan to take it easy until any sutures are removed. Avoid bending, lifting, or other strenuous activities to minimize the chance of harming the treatment site. If the surgical area is on your head or neck, sleep with your head elevated until your doctor instructs you otherwise.
Managing Bleeding & Other Post-Op Symptoms
Some pain, swelling, drainage, and bleeding is normal after skin surgery. If you experience bleeding or oozing, place some clean gauze over the area and apply pressure for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat as necessary until bleeding stops. If you are unable to control bleeding using these methods, contact your doctor.
To manage swelling and discomfort, try elevating the area and applying an ice pack. However, be careful to keep your bandage dry while icing. Tylenol or other over-the-counter pain medications can also help with discomfort.
When to Call a Doctor
Typically, post-operative symptoms begin to resolve after the first two days. Contact your doctor right away if you notice a sudden increase in:
These symptoms may indicate an infection. You should also reach out if you are unable to control bleeding from the treatment site with pressure.
Protect Your Health
Carefully following all post-operative instructions is crucial to ensuring your health and a speedy recovery after skin surgery. Your doctor can provide specific instructions depending on the type of procedure you choose. Contact a dermatologist today to learn more about recovery after dermatology surgery.