Discharge Instructions: Caring for Your Incision

You are going home with sutures (stitches) or surgical staples in place. Or you may have special strips of tape called Steri-Strips. One of these items was used to close your incision, help stop bleeding, and speed healing. Follow the tips on this sheet to help your incision heal.

Home care

  • Always wash your hands before touching your incision.

  • Keep your incision clean and dry.

  • Avoid doing things that could cause dirt or sweat to get on your incision.

  • Don’t pick at scabs. They help protect the wound.

  • Keep your incision out of water.

  • Bathe or shower only as directed.

  • To keep the incision dry when around water, cover it with a plastic bag or plastic wrap.

  • Pat sutures dry if they get wet. Don’t rub.

  • Leave the dressing (bandage) in place until you are told to remove it or change it. Change it only as directed, using clean hands.

  • After the first 12 hours, change your dressing every 24 hours.

  • Change your dressing if it gets wet or soiled.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical care

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Increased pain, redness, swelling, bleeding, or foul-smelling discharge around the incision area

  • Fever of 101.5°F (38.6°C) or higher

  • Shaking chills

  • Vomiting or nausea that doesn’t go away

  • Numbness, coldness, or tingling around the incision area

  • Opening of the sutures or wound