Surgical Wound Healing by Secondary Intention

In some situation, the cosmetic outcome of a surgery is best when the wound is left to heal in on its own partially or completely rather than sutured closed. Other times this is done based on patient preference over another healing method (e.g., graft or flap). This will generally take longer to heal than a sutured wound.

We will bandage the wound today and this should be left in place for 48-72 hours. However, if the dressing becomes soaked with blood or wound discharge before then, you will need to go ahead and remove the dressing and apply a new one.

Once 48-72 hours has passed, remove the initial dressing by gently wetting the dressing with clean hands (e.g., in the shower) and carefully removing the dressing. If there are crusted or adherent areas, use a half hydrogen peroxide and half water solution to gently remove crusts.

To clean wound, combine 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 cup of water. Soak sterile gauze, Q-tips, or cotton balls with solution and saturate wound for 2 minutes. Do not rub. Blot dry with sterile gauze, Q-tips, or cotton balls.

Cover wound with white petrolatum (e.g., Vaseline ointment), then place small nonstick pad (e.g., Telfa) in place. If wound is draining, follow this layer with plain gauze. Lastly, apply wound tape or apply an adequately sized self-stick bandage (e.g., Band-Aid).

This is continued daily until the wound has completely healed in. This typically takes several weeks and is variable between patients (e.g., faster in younger patients, slower in persons who smoke, etc.). As the wound heals in and exudes less fluid, you may gradually reduce the frequency of dressing changes to every other day until healed.

Supplies you will need at home for dressing changes:

  • White petrolatum (e.g., Vaseline ointment)
  • Clean lukewarm water (e.g., distilled water). You may also need hydrogen peroxide as noted above.
  • 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

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 your appointment. Call the office at 918-340-6539  with any questions. Return for wound check once the area has healed in or if you have any concerns about the wound prior to that 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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