Wound Care Instructions After Your Skin Surgery

This information explains how to care for your wound after your skin surgery.
Caring for your wound after skin surgery is important to help prevent infection and promote healing. Your nurse will review these instructions with you before you go home.

After Your Surgery

  • You may have swelling and bruising after your skin surgery. This usually goes away over several days.
  • If you have any bleeding, press firmly on your wound with a clean gauze pad for 15 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, repeat this step. If the bleeding still hasn’t stopped after repeating this step, call your doctor’s office. 
  • To relieve any discomfort, take ____________________ or apply ____________________.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for ______ weeks. 
  • You may have discoloration (pinkness/redness) at the site for up to a year after your surgery. Once the site has healed, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to the area to protect it from scarring.
  • If you have stitches after your surgery, either:
    • Return to your doctor’s office to have the stitches removed in ______ days/weeks, or
    • Continue to check the stitches until they are dissolved, which may take 1 to 2 months. It may look like a piece of small white string at the biopsy site. If the stitches are not bothering you, allow them to dissolve completely. If the stitches start to bother you, contact your doctor’s office. 
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Caring for Your Wound at Home

  • Leave the bandage on your wound for ______ hours and keep it clean and dry.
  • Apply an ice pack to the site for 3 to 5 minutes several times during the first 24 hours after your surgery to help reduce bleeding, pain, and swelling.
  • You can shower ______ hours after your surgery. Do not soak your wound in a bath or allow the shower stream to directly wet your wound. Do not swim, go into a Jacuzzi®, or take a bath for ______ weeks.
  • If you have Steri-Strips® (tape strips) over your wound, do not remove them. They will fall off on their own by slowly curling off in about 1 week. Trim the curled edges and within a few days, the entire strip should come off.

Cleaning your wound

Follow the instructions below to clean your wound.
  1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Clean your wound daily with ____________________. Or, if instructed, soak your wound with gauze and ____________________.
  3. Gently pat your wound dry with a clean gauze pad.
  4. Use cotton applicators to put ____________________ ointment on your wound.
  5. Cover your wound with a Band-Aid® or a bandage cut to the size of your wound. If you use nonstick gauze, keep it in place with paper tape.
  6. Wash your hands with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  7. Follow these instructions for ______ days/weeks.

Special instructions

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Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You Have:

  • A temperature of 100.4° F (38 ° C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Any of the following symptoms at your wound or the area around it:
    • Increasing redness or swelling
    • Increasing pain or discomfort
    • Skin that is hot to the touch
    • Yellowish or greenish drainage
    • Bleeding that doesn’t stop after applying pressure
    • Foul odor
    • If the lesion appears to have opened
    • Rash
    • Blistering
  • Any questions or unexpected problems

​Nurse: ________________________________

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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Wound Care Instructions After Your Skin Surgery
©2016 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on February 10, 2016