Wound healing

Over the first few days there will be inflammation around your wound.  This often leads to a rim of redness around the cut.  This will disappera over the next few weeks.  It takes 6 weeks for most wounds to become strong, however for a wound to completely mature this may take a few months.

Q: What can go wrong with the healing process?

With elective surgery the risk of wound complications is low.  However, a wound can become infected, may gape open, or may scar in an unsightly manner.

Q: How do I know if my wound is infected? And what should I do?

If the wound is infected the redness around the cut often persists,  accompanied by pain and swelling.  You may develop sweating and fever. You should see your surgeon, family doctor or present to an emergency department which ever is most accessible.  

After reviewing your wound, it is likely that you will need a course of antibiotics.  If the wound has pus under it, the sutures/staples may have to be removed earlier than scheduled. This allows the infection to get out.  If you have absorbable sutures in, the wound may require opening under a local or general anaesthetic.  If you are very unwell with sweating and fever, blood tests may be taken and you may be admitted to the hospital for more intensive antibiotics.

Q: What if my wound gapes open?

If your wound gapes open, you should see your surgeon, family doctor or present to the emergency department. If your wound is clean, it may be resutured.  However it is often best left to heal on its own.  This will mean regular dressing of the wound. The wound will then take a number of weeks to heal. Your scar will also be slightly larger.

Q: What if I have an unsightly scar?

These are often referred to as keloid scars or hypertrophic scars. They are more common in Asians and people with darker skin tones. They often occur around the chest area but can occur anywhere.  They often appear as very thick scarring.  These can be very difficult to treat, as they may recur if they are cut out.  Injection of steroids into the scar sometimes is of benefit.