How to Care for Your Surgical Wound

Our goal in performing excisional skin surgery is to remove abnormal or undesirable parts of the skin and to produce as imperceptible a scar as possible. You play a very important role in assuring good healing of the wound after leaving our office. Some important things to know and do:

A pressure bandage may have been applied to your wound to reduce immediate bleeding. This dressing should be left in place and dry for at least 24 hours (do not bathe or shower) up to 72 hours and then may be removed, gently. After removing, check for extreme swelling of the wound, which could indicate bleeding deep in the wound. If you do notice such extreme swelling, please call our office.

If bleeding from the wound occurs, leave the pressure bandage in place and hold firm pressure directly to the bleeding site with your fingertips over a clean cloth. Apply direct pressure for 20-30 minutes without letting up (no peaking!). If the bleeding does not stop, call the office at 918-340-6539. If it is after hours, call the same number and follow the prompts to page Dr. Buster.

In addition to the pressure bandage, steri strip may have been applied to your wound to reduce tension on the edges of the wound. If this is the case, change the steri strips weekly or every other week for one month. If you have steri strips, do not use Vaseline on your incision as this would keep steri strips from sticking. When you clean the wound, you may gently clean over the top of the steri strips.

Supplies you will need at home for dressing changes:

  • White petrolatum (e.g., Vaseline ointment)
  • Clean lukewarm water (e.g., distilled water)
  • White vinegar
  • Sterile gauze (preferred), Q-tips, or cotton balls
  • Sterile non-stick pads (e.g., Telfa)
  • Paper tape or adequately sized self-stick bandages

To clean the wound, combine 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and one cup of water (not hot). Soak a cotton ball, q-tip, or clean, soft washcloth in the water/vinegar solution and saturate wound for about 2 minutes. If the soaking stings, add more water. Avoid vigorous rubbing; just pat dry when done. Do this cleaning twice daily.

After cleaning, apply white petrolatum (e.g., Vaseline ointment) twice daily (unless you have steri strips). The petrolatum prevents drying and scab formation. Cover the petroleum with a bandage (e.g., band-aid). Try to rotate the bandage (put on in different direction each day) so you do not develop an area of irritation under the bandage.

If your wound pops open, call us immediately. Check your wound daily for any signs of infection such as extreme tenderness, redness, or yellow or pus-like drainage. You should expect a moderate degree of tenderness.

Continue wound care for approximately 2-3 weeks. Although your wound may appear well healed in 1-2 weeks, it will take 2-3 months for good healing to occur. You should avoid activities that cause excessive tension across or stretching of the surgical site (e.g., some types of exercise, weight lifting, etc.) for at least 2-4 weeks. Avoid such activities longer if you feel any pulling on wound.

Your scar may be very noticeable initially, but with time (usually several months) the pink color will fade and irregularities become smoother. Make sure to keep the scar out of the sun, because sun exposure will prolong redness/darker coloration. Silcone gel sheeting can also improve the appearance of scar(s). If desired, this can be applied as starting 2 weeks after surgery (if steri strips are off). Dr. Buster likes Dr. Blaine’s Complete Scar Care. The Vitamin E and silicone gel can be applied twice during the day and the silicone pad cut to size and applied at night for minimum of 12 hours daily x 3months.

If you experience pain after your procedure, we recommend the use of two 325mg acetominophen tablets by mouth every 6 hours as needed as long as you are not allergic to it and have no contraindications to it. If so, please discuss pain management at you appointment. Call the office at 918-340-6539 with any questions.

Return for suture removal/wound check as instructed at your surgery visit. If you only have absorbable sutures, none will be removed as they will dissolve over time.

Dermatologist Tulsa, OK


Call us today to set up an appointment 918.340.6539


10131 S. Yale Ave Suite B • Tulsa 74137


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