Based on the surgical procedures you are undergoing, incisions—a cut made during the operation may be located in various body parts. Some incisions are enclosed using medical staples, some others with medical stitches or sutures. In surgical procedures which cause only minor wounds, a doctor may use a special kind of tissue adhesive in a form of a glue. Referring to these variations, surgical wound healing can vary among patients.
What influences surgical wound healing?
- Location of incision. Incisions located in body parts with a lot of mobility may heal slower than the one in body parts with less mobility.
- Closure method. Certain closure methods provide faster healing than some others. Incision closure using a tissue adhesive glue commonly heals faster than the one using sutures.
- Wound care. Caring for post-surgical incision is really important, since proper wound care will heal the incision properly—faster and minimized scarring.
Timeline of common surgical wound healing
Surgical wound healing basically uses the principles of wound healing general phases, and these phases begin immediately after you start the outpatient treatments after surgery. Generally, here is the timeline of a proper surgical wound healing:
- Inflammatory phase: this phase happens straightaway and lasts up to 6 days after the procedure. This phase is signed by sufficient blood flow to the incision.
- Proliferative phase: while the inflammatory phase is the period when the body respond to the wounded site by causing inflammation, the proliferative phase is the period when new blood vessels grow at the wound site, which functions to bring nutrient-rich blood to the healing incision. During this phase, new tissues also start to develop. Proliferative phase begins after the inflammatory phase and lasts for several weeks.
- Maturation phase: in this final phase, new cells develop and strengthen the wounded site and soften the scars. This phase happens after new tissues are formed—around one to one and a half months after the procedure. Maturation phase continues for several months, even years.
Elaborated, these are things you will find during incision wound healing process.
- After a surgical procedure done, an incision is going to bleed for 3 to 6 days, depending on the size and severity of the wound, the location of the wound site, and the closure treatment used. During these days, drainage, such as pus and fluid might be found, and this is a normal body response to injuries. Sometimes, inflammation also happens, and as long as it is not accompanied by fever and elevating pain, this is a normal initial phase of incision wound healing.
- If your incision is enclosed by a medical super glue and it is not quite severe, a week might be enough to join the edges of the incision. In several months, your glued incision will be fully healed.
- If your incision is enclosed by staples or non-dissolvable sutures, you might need to have them removed in 3rd to 10th day after the procedure, depending on the entire condition of the incision.
- If there is no re-opened wound site after staple removal, your wound will immediately continue to heal by producing new skin cells to enclose it.
- If there are some new formed wounds from the removal procedure, you will need to perform standard wound care for promoting proper healing and preventing infection.
- When bleeding stops and drainage decreases, the wound site is enriched with nutrients brought by the blood vessels. This will feed the new skin cells and promote its normal growth. A week to a month after the incision made, you might see a thin layer of dermis starts to form and the wound is enclosed. During this time, scabs may form, especially on a wound site which is not kept moist. If scabs are picked and the wound re-bleeds, you might have broken the thin layer of growing dermis and thus, restart the healing process from the beginning. Scabs is also a body response to wound healing, yet excessive scabs will delay the entire healing process and might cause severe scarring.
- When the wound is closed, the body starts to complete the growth of epidermis and give the wound site a complete closure. This takes months to years, although physically, the wound has healed and will not be easily tore any longer.