Most people put a lot of thought into what kind of cosmetic procedure they wish to undergo, and which plastic surgeon they will entrust themselves to for the work; a surprising number do not, however, spend a lot of time thinking after what they’ll do after their procedure. If the cosmetic surgery you’ve decided on for yourself involves getting stitches, though, being prepared for the days immediately following your procedure is crucial—it can protect you from infection, and ensure that you experience minimal scarring as you heal.
Your surgeon will give you instructions following your surgery, of course, but it’s always good to have a grasp on the details ahead of time. Here are the basics:
Helping out the Healing Process
1) For at least the first 24 hours following your procedure, keep your incision clean, and avoid water and moisture completely—do not let it get wet.
2) After that 24-hour window of time (or whatever number of hours your surgeon has instructed you to keep your stitches dry for), gently wash the area with soap and water once or twice per day to ensure that no bacteria is getting in.
3) If your doctor has prescribed a topical antibiotic for your incision, apply it immediately after cleaning the area (again, protecting yourself from harmful bacteria).
4) Have your stitches removed as soon as your surgeon says they can come out; keeping them for longer than they are necessary can lead to unwanted scarring.
Red Flags to Look Out For:
1) Excessive redness – a little bit of redness around the edges of your stitches is normal, but if it starts spreading, it could mean trouble.
2) Inflammation/soreness – it’s normal for the area where you’ve been sutured to feel somewhat tender in the days following surgery, but if it doesn’t start to feel better within three or four days, call your surgeon.
3) Discoloration/discharge – if the area around your stitches begins to turn any color besides red—or if you begin to discharge pus and/or other fluids—it’s not a good sign.
4) Fever – high temperatures (over 100 degrees) don’t always mean that you have the flu—sometimes they signal infection. If you get a fever while you’re healing, it’s probably not a coincidence.
5) Stitches coming out early – stitches are supposed to come out eventually, but not until your doctor says so.
As you can see, caring for your stitches isn’t so hard. Simply following these basic steps—and keeping an eye out for signs of infection—can make all the difference in how well your heal. Take care of your stitches, and they’ll take care of you!