In order to have the best chance at recovery following a foot or ankle procedure, you need to ensure you’re taking care of the incision site. These incision sites typically have great healing results, but at the same time, that doesn’t happen by accident. You need to be proactive in how you care for your surgical wound as you progress through your rehab and recovery. Below, we share some incision care tips for patients who want to help their wound site heal after foot or ankle surgery.
Caring For Your Incision Site After Foot Surgery
We’re going to provide some general tips for cleaning and caring for your incision site after foot surgery, but it’s important to remember that the best advice you’ll receive is from the surgeon overseeing your procedure. They will be able to give you advice tailored to your specific operation and needs, so their advice trumps what we say below. That being said, odds are their recommendations will fall in line with many of the tips you read below.
Some ways to help expedite healing and care for your incision site after foot surgery include:
- Perform Daily Checks – Get in the habit of examining your surgical site every day or every time you change the dressing. Look for signs of a problem and talk to your doctor if you suspect that an infection might be developing, which brings us to our next point.
- Know The Signs Of An Infection – Learn about the signs of an infection and look for them every time you perform a wound inspection. Signs that suggest an infection may be developing include heat coming from the incision site, discolored discharge, a foul smell, oozing pus or extreme redness. An infection can jeopardize the integrity of your recent surgery and have implications for your whole body, so speak to your doctor at the first sign of a problem.
- Keep It Clean – Change your dressing and safely clean the incision site as recommended by your physician. Leaving a dressing on for too long can increase your risk of developing an infection, so get in the habit of changing your bandages regularly. If it is in a difficult location to safely reach, have a friend or family member assist.
- Avoid Wetness – Again, your doctor will provide you with personalized bathing instructions, but in most cases the goal is to keep the incision site dry. Baths are typically out of the question, and showering is only reserved if you can protect the surgical site with waterproof coverings. Your doctor may recommend sponge baths or similar cleaning methods until enough incision site healing has run its course.
- Mind The Sun – The new skin that forms as the incision heals is extra sensitive to light, so you’ll want to avoid prolonged exposure with direct sunlight until healing runs its course. Otherwise, a sunburn could lead to scarring and problems at the incision site.
- Ask Questions – Finally, if you have questions about how to best care for your wound site or if certain actions should or shouldn’t be performed, please reach out to your doctor or their medical team for advice. We would much rather answer five minutes of questions over the phone than need to perform a second operation to cleanse a surgical site infection. Never be afraid to ask questions about incision site care or any part of your rehab that you don’t quite understand.
Surgery is just the first step in helping your foot heal, and you play a big role in the recovery process by how you care for your incision site in the days and weeks after surgery.