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3 Ways to Know the Difference Between Healing and Infected Surgical Wounds

Posted July 27, 2020 in Plastic Surgery Scars

3 Minute Read: 

As healing occurs following your plastic surgery, there are distinct changes that occur to the skin (on and near the wound). The healing process varies depending on the type and extent of the procedure. For instance, in a tummy tuck procedure, a mini tuck will require less recovery time than an extended tummy tuck. For proper healing to take place, always follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions and pay attention to your surgical incisions to ensure your wounds are healing as they should.

Illustration showing the difference between a healthy incision and inflamed incision.

It is essential to understand what to expect during the recovery process and be aware of where you are in the healing process to help make your experience easier and safer.

What Are the Signs That Your Wound Is Healing Properly?

Thanks to our immune system, our bodies have an incredible ability to heal themselves. Wound repair occurs in distinct phases, including bleeding and clotting, followed by the formation of a scab.

While you may experience some swelling, inflammation, pain, and clear discharge, you need not worry unless it is too extreme. As your wound heals, new tissue starts to grow over the wound, after which regular daily activity can be resumed.

During this time, you may find yourself wondering if what you are experiencing is normal or if something is amiss. Here are some warning signs to watch out for.

1. Fluid

As your wound heals, you will notice some watery discharge coming out of the incision area. This is perfectly normal and will usually occur for the first two to three days following the procedure. However, if you have greenish, yellowish, or cloudy drainage seeping out of the surgical site, you might be dealing with an infection and will need to contact your surgeon without delay.

2. Redness

Some degree of redness and pain is typical following your surgical procedure. However, extreme redness that spreads as thready, spiderweb patterns beyond the wound could indicate a possible infection. Contact your surgeon to help you avoid further complications.

3. Raised Skin

Ideally, healing wounds should remain relatively flat. If it is not, that might be a sign that something is not healing appropriately. A case in point may be a breast implant incision that stays red and swollen for sеvеrаl weeks post-operation. An infected wound will have enlarged and hardened lymph nodes, especially close to the surgery site. As a matter of precaution, it’s important to contact your surgeon to have him/her examine your surgical site and test the fluid around your implant for signs of bacteria.

Unfortunately, some wounds turn into keloid scars, which are raised and thick lesions that develop at the site of an injury (such as a surgical wound). These types of scars are sometimes inevitable; however, they may be avoided with adequate scar care during the healing process.  

Interested in Learning More?

Knowing when you have an infected wound and seeking immediate help is crucial in minimizing scarring and avoiding further complications. We have performed numerous procedures to help our patients achieve their aesthetic goals. To learn more, call 949-644-1240 or fill our online form to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jon Grazer.