Surgical Wound & Incision Care

surgical wound care

Any surgery, whether it’s a knee replacement or a c-section, creates surgical wounds that need time to heal. When these wounds open back up or fail to heal altogether, additional surgical wound care may be necessary to properly achieve permanent wound healing. 

What Is a Surgical Wound?

A surgical wound is any type of incision made through the skin and soft tissue during surgery. Most surgical wounds are easily closed with sutures, also known as stitches, to support the skin’s natural healing process. Surgical wounds also develop when a drain is placed to collect fluid from the surgical area. This is done to remove fluid or air and prevent accumulation. 

Some surgical wounds and incisions heal quickly, but it’s possible for sutures to tear and allow incisions to re-open. This may occur if any of the following complications threaten the wound healing process:

  • Infection
  • Poor tissue structure
  • Compromised circulation
  • Stress on the wound 

Since open surgical wounds are vulnerable to serious infection, especially if located near bone, timely surgical wound infection care is essential. 

What Is a Non-Healing Surgical Wound?

If a surgical wound fails to heal after about four weeks, it may be considered a non-healing surgical wound or chronic wound

There’s no single reason for non-healing wounds. Any of the following may be the cause:

  • Health issues like diabetes or smoking can impede the body’s natural healing processes
  • Blood vessel damage that prevents circulation of nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood
  • Improper wound care that exacerbates high-risk wounds not healing properly

A non-healing wound can be recognized by its distinct symptoms, including a foul odor, pain, discharge from the site of the incision, and swelling. 

Surgical Wound Dehiscence

Wound dehiscence is a complication of surgical wounds that occurs when a surgical incision breaks open along the stitches. This is often caused by inefficient stitching, overly tight sutures, new injury to the area, or because the patient has been too active. It’s even possible to break a surgical incision by vomiting, coughing, or sneezing. 

Wound dehiscence presents a few specific symptoms:

  • Feeling that the wound is ripping apart or giving way
  • Leaking fluid from the site of the wound
  • Worsening infection

Patients suffering from chronic disease, chemotherapy, or weak immune system function are more vulnerable to wound dehiscence.

Surgical Incisions Care from R3 Wound Care and Hyperbarics

Any surgery can create surgical wounds that need time and extra care to heal. Although we treat any type of surgical incisions at R3, here are some of the most common surgical procedures that we provide incision healing for:

  • Appendectomy
  • C-section
  • Hysterectomy
  • Inguinal hernia repairs
  • Mastectomy
  • Spine surgery
  • Mohs surgery

Surgical Wound Care Treatment Options

R3 Wound Care and Hyperbarics offers a wide range of surgical wound care and incision healing options to help patients recover from injury and trauma as efficiently as possible. 

  • Active debridement: Debridement is the removal of dead tissue from a chronic wound to help it heal properly. Necrotic tissue at the wound site keeps healthy tissue from developing and increases the risk of infection. The dead tissue must be removed to create a clean, healthy wound bed that can heal effectively. 
  • Skin grafts: Skin grafting involves placing a piece of skin that is removed from one area of the body and transplanted to another. This is an especially powerful treatment when paired with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
  • Bioengineered skin:  Bioengineered tissue may be a viable alternative to skin grafts in difficult-to-heal surgical wounds. Bioengineered skin reduces the risk of infection and closes surgical wounds by promoting new skin growth.
  • Incision and drainage: Incision care and drainage may be needed to treat a surgical wound with an abscess. This material must be drained to prevent further invasion of the infection into healthy tissue. 
  • Negative pressure-assisted wound closure: This treatment uses negative pressure to suction fluids from the wound and bring the edges of the wound together. In this way, negative pressure therapy reduces infection and supports successful wound healing. 
  • Post-surgical incision management: A surgeon may prescribe post-surgical incision healing and management with R3 if a patient is at high risk of wound infection. Through post-surgical incision management, the team at R3 monitors the incision for signs of infection or compromised healing. Immediate steps are taken if a problem is detected. 

What to Expect During Surgical Wound Care Treatment

You can visit R3 Wound Care for wound treatment as early as one week after your surgery. During your appointment, you’ll be evaluated by our provider to determine your treatment plan.

Once initial conservative wound treatments (listed above) have been performed, our experts may recommend HBOT to supplement your healing process. The number and frequency of HBOT treatments needed vary based on your wound location, size, and level of infection. 

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for Surgical Incision Wound Care

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) offers a safe, natural, and efficient medical therapy for non-healing surgical wounds. Each treatment session is easy, painless, and even relaxing!

Oxygen has a profound influence over wound healing, so any oxygen deficiency stunts the body’s ability to heal. HBOT is performed in a large, clear hyperbaric chamber to deliver pure, concentrated oxygen throughout the body. 

This process stimulates and supports the body’s healing processes. When white blood cells receive enough oxygen, they can effectively kill bacteria, reduce swelling, and allow the rapid reproduction of new blood vessels. Since HBOT addresses wound healing at a deep cellular level, it can be used to address surgical wounds not healing properly. 

Most infections develop within 30 days of surgery and cause redness, fever, pain, and delayed healing. 

A few of the most common types of surgical wound infections include Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 

HBOT fights these infections by enhancing the white blood cells’ ability to fight bacteria, build new connective tissues, and improve organ function. 

Quality Surgical Wound Care in a State-of-the-Art Facility

If you’ve experienced a surgical wound or infection that can’t heal sufficiently on its own, our wound care treatment options can safely accelerate and enhance your healing process.

Visit one of our state-of-the-art locations and experience skilled personnel and warm, welcoming treatment centers. The R3 team will address your unique medical needs and help you enjoy your life without the hindrance of surgical wounds.

Find an R3 Wound Care & Hyperbarics location near you or contact us to schedule an appointment.