Whether you’re preparing for surgery or have just undergone a procedure, you should know to pay attention to the incision site. 

Your skin is your body’s natural barrier protecting you from infection, so when you have breaks in your skin — even if a doctor makes them in a sterile environment — your risk of complications increases. 

The most common surgical wound complications include dehiscence — a wound that won’t close — and infection. In fact, up to 3% of surgical wounds become infected after surgery, usually within 30 days of the procedure. 

At Wound Evolution - Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, we specialize in all types of wounds, including non-healing surgical wounds and those that develop complications. Here are five signs you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Pus or drainage

When you have a wound, it goes through several healing processes, including bleeding and scabbing. As a result, it's also normal to have minimal to moderate discharge during the first week that appears thin, clear, or pale yellow. 

But if you notice pus or thick, discolored drainage, especially in large quantities, it can indicate infection.

2. Redness, warmth, or discoloration

One of the first steps in healing involves swelling as blood vessels in the area get to work fighting bacteria and forming blood clots. This phase can take up to six days, so it’s normal to notice mild redness, warmth, and swelling. 

While this can indicate healthy healing, you should contact your doctor if this redness or warmth worsens, especially if it starts spreading. It’s also cause for concern if you notice your skin darkening at the edges of your wound.

3. A strong or foul odor

Sometimes, you can detect odors near an incision site because of an old dressing, body odor, or incontinence. But infected wounds often have a distinct odor along with other symptoms. 

Some bacteria can smell sickly sweet, while others can be quite strong, putrid, or ammonia-like. If you notice a strong or foul odor, especially with pus, drainage, or warmth present, alert your doctor as soon as possible.

4. Increasing pain

As your body heals, it goes through a rebuilding process when the edges of your skin knit together and scars form. 

At this point, it’s common to have some sharp pains in the area of your wound, which can indicate sensation returning to your nerves. What isn’t normal is persistent or increasing pain, both signs that your healing is not on track.

5. Fever and chills

If you have a fever and feel sick, it’s a sure sign of infection. A fever is your body’s response to illness as it works to kill the virus or bacteria making you sick, and it works to activate your immune system. This is an obvious sign of a problem that you shouldn’t ignore.

By paying close attention to the healing process of your wound after your surgery, you can avoid risky complications. 

To learn more about surgical wound care, contact one of our locations in Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas, by calling or booking an appointment online today.

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