Care Instructions after Surgery
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Care Instructions After Surgery

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Please follow these instructions carefully:
3 Steps Daily care instructions include:

1. Wash daily with rubbing alcohol or ˝ strength (1.5%) hydrogen peroxide. These can be obtained at your local pharmacy. Your surgeon may instruct you to wash with soap and water and this can be done in the shower.

2. Apply a generous amount of either Polysporin ointment (not cream) or Bactroban ointment daily. These can both be obtained at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Avoid Neosporin as this can cause an allergic reaction.

3. Cover with a band-aid daily. This can either be of the cloth or plastic type. Occasionally patients may develop irritation or redness from the band-aid itself and if this occurs, one can try paper tape (3M brand) with 2x2 gauze.

Continue these daily instructions for at least 2 weeks or follow the instructions given by your doctor. It is important to follow these instructions to prevent infection and to obtain the best cosmetic result.

Possible complications after surgery and what to do about them:

1. Infection. This may present as redness, pain and perhaps a yellow-white discharge from the wound site. If this occurs it is best to see your dermatologist, family doctor, walk-in clinic or your local emergency to have this assessed. You may require antibiotics by mouth to treat this.

2. Bleeding / bruising. It is normal to have some blood oozing or spotting, particularly during the first few days after surgery. If this occurs applying pressure with a clean gauze for a few minutes should stop any bleeding. If the bleeding persists and it is of large quantity, it is best to see your dermatologist, family doctor or go to emergency. Bruising at the site may also occur and this is normal.

3. Pain at the site. It is normal to have some pain after the anaesthetic wears off in 1-2 hours. The pain is usually minimal and does not require any pain killers. In some patients with more moderate pain, they may require some plain Tylenol (only if you do not have an allergy to this medication).

4. Numbness. This is an uncommon problem, but if it occurs, it usually gradually resolves within a few weeks.

5. Recurrence of the lesion. If the surgery you underwent removed all of the lesion, uncommonly the lesion may return but this may take months to years. If it does re-appear, it is best to see your dermatologist again.

6. Scar formation. All types of surgery result in a permanent scar. Different patients will heal differently and some patients will have scars that are more noticeable than other patients. Scars on the chest, shoulders, or upper back sometimes become thick with time (known as keloids).

For Patients with stitches:

Do not perform any heavy lifting or vigorous exercises for 2-3 weeks after surgery because if the stitches “pop”, this will result in a larger scar.

For the most part, your dermatologic surgeon uses stitches that need to be removed at a later date. The reason for this is that such stitches are known to cause less reactions at the wound site. For some patients, the surgeon may decide to use stitches that do not need to be removed and if this is the case, you will be informed about this.

In general, stitches on the scalp, neck, arms, legs, or trunk need removal at 10-12 days. Stitches on the face need removal in 5-7 days. DO NOT leave them in for longer periods of time, unless your surgeon tells you to do so. Stitches can be removed by your dermatologist, family doctor, or at a walk-in clinic at your convenience.

For Patients without stitches:

Your wound site will form a scab in a few weeks. Do not “rip” the scab off. The scab will fall off by itself, leaving a healed scar underneath. Total healing time may take up to 4 weeks and occasionally longer.


It is OK to take a shower or go swimming, but keep it covered with a band-aid, unless you are washing it in the shower.

One should not perform heavy lifting or activity that might “pop” stitches, if stitches are present. Do not operate heavy machinery.

It is normal to have some itchiness or occasional sharp “jab” at the site for a few weeks after surgery as the scar matures.

It is recommended that patients have an accompanying person to drive them home.