Video Production by Josh Melendez

This video covers the information you need and the steps to follow after your dermatology surgery.

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Okay. So you’ve just finished your dermatology procedure and you’re wondering how to take care of that wound so that you get the best results and the best scar possible.

So the first thing to remember is please ask any questions you have before leaving the clinic. Please also ask for any handouts that your practice might have so that you know exactly how to take care of your surgical wound. If the practice that you’re going to does not have handouts, you’re welcome to go to my website that you can find in the Notes section down below and look at ours.

While they might not be exactly what your doctor recommends, they’re probably reasonably close. So after you’ve asked any questions and received your handout, please make sure you know what type of dressing was applied to the surgical wound and how to change that dressing. There’s basically two types of dressings that we use in dermatology.

So one of them is a piece of tape called Micropore or a clear sheet called Tegaderm or other sorts of dressing materials that will stay on the wound the entire time until you come back for the sutures to be removed.

Now, what we usually do is we put one of these pieces on, either the tape or the clear dressing, and then we put a pressure dressing on. And that pressure dressing stays on for about 24 to 48 hours then you take the pressure dressing off and you leave either the tape or the clear piece until you come back for suture removal. You basically don’t have to do anything else to it.

The other method is where we put Vaseline or Aquaphor on the wound and then we put a pressure dressing on top. Now for this method, you need to take the pressure dressing off within 24 to 48 hours and then you gently clean it with a little gentle soap or cleanser and water. You pat dry. You put another row of vaseline on and another dressing on the wound and you keep that up until you come back for suture removal.

Now, most suture removals in dermatology happen somewhere between 5 and 21 days. So please make sure that you know when you need to come back to have the stitches taken out and that that appointment is set so that you know exactly what needs to happen. Now, it’s really important to get the desired result, to not have anything put pull or pressure on the area that was excised or that had the surgical procedure done to it for six weeks.

And the reason I say that is a lot of people think, “Well, as soon as the stitches are taken out then I can go back to lifting weights or horseback riding, or throwing a backpack on my back, or having tight clothing right on the surgical wound.” You know, none of that is true. We need to give the body a little bit of time to heal and if you immediately go back to anything that’s putting pull on the area or pressure or rubbing on the area, that could cause a worse surgical scar than is necessary.

If your wound is directly over somewhere where clothing rests and rubs like a bra or a waistline, then please always keep a piece of gauze between the wound and where the clothing you’re wearing for six weeks. We want the rubbing to happen at the gauze level, not at the wound level.

And please make sure you’re not wearing really tight clothing because even if you have gauze there, if it’s really tight that’s asking a whole lot of a wound to heal, and to heal well, with being chronically rubbed or a lot of pressure on it. Now, last thing I’m going to say is please do not let dirty water wash over the area for at least 24 hours and in some areas, longer, like the lower legs.

It takes a while for that wound to get watertight and if you let dirty water from your head, neck, armpits, or groin, run over that wound before it’s watertight that’s going to increase your chances of infection and we don’t want that. So please at least 24 to 48 hours do not let dirty water run over your wound.

If it’s on the lower legs, I say four days of not letting dirty water run over the wound. Now, for almost all surgical procedures that are done, we usually like to see you back for follow-up and that follow-up is really to make sure the wound is healing well. And if you’ve had something taken off that was atypical, maybe an atypical mole or maybe a cancer, we do want to make sure that that is not coming back, and that we’re looking at other areas of your body to make sure nothing else is concerned.

So please talk to your dermatologist and ask them when it is appropriate to have your next full body scan examination. As always, we thank you for allowing us to help you become comfortable in your skin. After watching this video, please also watch the pre-operation video, the procedure video, and the potential complications video so that you can achieve the best outcomes possible.

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About the author

Dr. Anderson with Doctors Quarterly Magazine - Cropped
Dr. Reagan Anderson

Dr. Anderson is a Board Certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon. He serves as a Clinical Professor of Dermatology and is actively involved in patient and healthcare provider education on dermatology conditions and treatment.

Colorado Dermatology Institute
8580 Scarborough Drive / 1220 Lake Plaza Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado