Post-Op Wound Management
The following page provides general instructions regarding the management of your post-operative incisions. The instructions are specific to the type of dressings and wound closures performed by Dr. Matsen Ko and Dr. Ko. They may not apply to everyone. If in doubt, refer to the specific post-operative instructions given to you at the time of your discharge from the hospital or call your surgeons office.
Hips and Knee Incisions:
- You will have a waterproof dressing and you can shower immediately after surgery. The dressing can be removed 7 days after surgery. Showering with soap and water is fine; let water run over the dressing. Once the dressing is removed, do not scrub the surgical incision but the area can get wet. Pat the surgical area dry. Do not apply lotions, creams, or ointments directly on the incision and please do not soak in a tub, hot tub, or swim until you see the doctor your follow-up appointment.
- You should expect a small amount of drainage from your wound. The drainage may be clear straw colored, tinged with blood-pink, bloody-dark red or cloudy. If there is significant wound drainage from the incision that is greater than what can be handled by your dressing, please let your surgeon know. You should cleanse the area around the incision with gauze dampened with hydrogen peroxide. Then place a dry dressing (sterile gauze secured with tape) over the affected part of the incision and wrap the knee with an ace-wrap. While the incision has drainage, you should minimize your activity.
- Most patients will have a waterproof dressings (clear plastic) and can shower immediately after surgery. Showering with soap and water is fine; let water run over the dressing. Keep the dressing on until the follow-up appointment.
- Some patients will have non-water proof dressing (tape and gauze). This can be taken off 5 days after your surgery.
- After the dressing is removed, do not scrub the surgical incision but the area can get wet. Pat the surgical area dry. Do not apply lotions, creams, or ointments directly on the incision. Do not submerge your incision underwater until 6 weeks post-op.
- You should expect a small amount of drainage from your wound. You should also expect some bruising around your surgical site.
- Call your surgeons office if there is excessive drainage from your incision, particularly if it persists for more than 3 days after your operation.
- Although arthroscopic incisions are small, they can often be associated with a significant amount of drainage. This is because water is used to inflate the joint so that the surgery can be performed. This fluid often takens several days/weeks to completely drain or be reabsorbed by the body
- Arthroscopic dressings are not waterproof so they must be kept clean and dry. The dressing can be removed by 3 days after surgery.
- There may still be a small amount of residual drainage after the dressing is removed. Bandaids can help to capture any residual drainage and avoid suture irritation.
- You can shower with normal soap and water after the dressings are removed. Avoid scrubbing the incisions and do not place any ointments or creams on the incisions. Do not submerge the incisions underwater.
- If there is persistent drainage past 5 days after the surgery or any purulence (pus) from any of the wounds, call your surgeons office.
- Elbow dressings are usually non-waterproof and many elbows are also protected by a splint. Therefore, these dressings must be kept clean and dry at all times.
- Some patients find it helpful to place their arm in a garbage bag taped or secured at the opening to protect the dressings while showering.
- If you have a splint on, leave the dressing and splint in place until the follow-up appointment. If you do not have a splint on, you can take your dressings off at 5 days after your surgery.