After your surgery, one of those most important things you can do is prevent an infection. An infection can slow your healing process, make you feel pretty lousy, and can, in some cases, create some serious complications.
An infection can begin in your incision, in your blood or in the area surrounding your incision. It is also possible to have an infection that seems unrelated to your surgery, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) after gallbladder surgery. This is because many surgeries require the patient to have a urinary catheter during the procedure.
Best Ways to Prevent Surgery Infections
There are many small things that you can do that will greatly improve your chances of recovering from surgery without an infection, but the most important of all of these is washing your hands properly and frequently.
Wash Your Hands
The most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently and properly. By properly, we mean a good hand washing like hospital staff members do, using soap, lukewarm water, and washing for at least 30 seconds. (Tip: If you sing "Mary Had A Little Lamb" — both verses — your hands will be clean when you finish the song.) Antibacterial soap is ideal, but it isn’t absolutely necessary; any soap will do.
Hand washing is the front line of defense against infection. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep your hands clean. This is also true of anyone who may be helping you care for your incision after surgery, even if they wear gloves.
Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, if they look dirty, after preparing raw chicken, and any other time they might be soiled. Hand sanitizer is often an acceptable alternative if your hands do not appear dirty.
Take Your Antibiotics as Prescribed
Antibiotics may prevent an infection, so be sure to take them as prescribed. You may be tempted to quit taking them if they upset your stomach, or if you feel great, but finishing the entire prescription is essential to staying infection free.
If you stop taking your antibiotic too soon, you may be at risk for developing a strain of infection that is resistant to that antibiotic. That means you can be sicker after not finishing an antibiotic than you were before you took it.
Keep Your Wound Clean and Dry
It is important to keep your wound clean to prevent infection. The best way to keep your wound clean, if your surgeon permits, is to shower and clean the wound with a mild antibacterial soap. Be sure to rinse the soap off well, as it can be irritating to our healing skin. Allow your incision to dry completely before applying a clean and dry bandage. You may not need to cover your incision; only do so if your surgeon has recommended doing so.
Using harsh cleansers such as peroxide and alcohol, scrubbing the incision, removing any scabs or allowing a damp dressing to remain on your incision are not recommended.
Wash Your Hands Before and After Wound Care
If you are caring for your wound and you haven’t just gotten out of the shower, it is important that you wash your hands before you touch the incision or care for it. In fact, for patients recovering in the hospital, it is normal for nurses to wash their hands and put on gloves before touching the incision and removing the bandage, then applying new, clean gloves before applying a clean dressing.
Doing your routine wound care on the schedule suggested by your surgeon is also important for preventing infection and encouraging healing. A soiled or moist dressing can encourage infection, as can leaving a wound open to air that should be covered.
Stop Smoking Now
Many smokers are sick of being told to quit smoking, and most are also fully aware that smoking is bad for their health. In this case, there is a very good reason that has nothing to do with the possibility of cancer in the future. Smokers are much more likely to have an infection during their recovery from surgery.
Smokers also have more scarring and heal more slowly. The more slowly your incision closes, the longer you are at risk for an infection in that area. Scarring is so much worse in smokers that some plastic surgeons test for nicotine prior to surgery and a positive test means that surgery may be canceled.
If You Leave the House, Use an Antibacterial Hand Cleanser
It may seem like hand washing has been covered pretty well already, but when you are out in public it is important to remember that everyone else isn't as diligent as you are. Everything you touch in public has the potential to spread an infection, so use waterless hand sanitizer frequently. Basically, assume that everyone else has failed to wash their hands and you are protecting yourself from their germs.
Resist the Ointment Urge
It may be tempting to use ointments and lotions on your incision, but it is not a good idea to use anything on your incision that your physician has not recommended. In fact, avoid using any creams, ointments, peroxide, alcohol and harsh soaps on your healing incision. They typically cause irritation and drying, which can lead to infection.
About Iranian Surgery
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For more information about the cost of Medical Services in Iran and to schedule an appointment in advance, you can contact Iranian Surgery consultants via WhatsApp number 0098 901 929 0946. This service is completely free.