Instructions After Your Apheresis Procedure

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This information explains how to care for yourself after your apheresis (a-feh-REE-sis) procedure. In this resource, the words “you” and “your” refer to you or your child.

About Your Apheresis Procedure

Apheresis is a procedure where blood is taken out of a person’s body and put through a machine. The machine separates the blood into 4 different parts (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma). It takes out 1 or more of these parts and puts the rest of the blood back into the body.

We use apheresis to take out parts of your blood that cause an illness or make it worse. We also use it to collect healthy parts of blood (such as platelets and plasma) from donors. These healthy parts of blood are then given to patients to treat certain illnesses.

After Your Apheresis Procedure

Once you finish the procedure, if you had intravenous (IV) lines in your arms, your nurse will take them out. They will cover each IV site (the place on your arm where the IV was) with a bandage. This will help keep the site from bleeding.

Leave the bandages on for at least 3 hours. Do not leave them on for longer than 5 hours. That can cut off your circulation (blood flow).

If there is bleeding when you take the bandages off, apply gentle but firm pressure on the IV sites. Press firmly on the sites with a clean, dry gauze pad, towel, or cloth. Keep pressing for 3 to 5 minutes, applying pressure until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding does not stop, call your healthcare provider.

If your tunneled catheter was used during the procedure, your nurse will flush and recap it.

Bruising or swelling

After your procedure, you may have bruising or swelling at the IV sites. If you do, place a cold compress on the sites every 15 minutes, as needed. You can use an ice pack or a cool washcloth. Do not keep the cold compress on the sites for more than 15 minutes at a time. That can damage your skin and nerves.

You can use a cold compress for the first 24 hours (1 day) after your procedure.

After 24 hours, you may still have discomfort at the IV sites. If you do, place a warm compress on the sites every 15 minutes, as needed. You can use a heating pad or a warm washcloth. Do not keep the warm compress on the sites for more than 15 minutes at a time. That can damage your skin and nerves.

Make sure the warm compress is not too hot before putting it on the sites. Be careful not to burn yourself.

If you still have discomfort at the IV sites after several days, call your healthcare provider. It’s important to do this if the bruising or swelling is getting worse.

Fatigue

After your procedure, you may have mild fatigue (feeling more tired and weak than usual). Ask your healthcare provider when you can go back to doing your normal activities. Most people can right away.

When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these:

  • A fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as:
    • Chills
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny nose
    • Fatigue
    • Vomiting (throwing up)
  • Any redness, bleeding, drainage, swelling, or pain around your tunneled catheter site or at the IV sites.
  • Numbness or tingling in your lips, hands, or feet.
  • A lot of pain on the left side of your body.
  • A bad headache and any neurological (nerve) changes, such as:
    • Changes in your vision.
    • Changes in your short-term or long-term memory.
    • Changes in your mobility (your ability to move).
    • A hard time speaking.
    • Any other concerning symptoms.

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Last Updated

Thursday, July 28, 2022