To achieve the best possible result after surgery, it is important that sutures (stitches) and, later, scars are given proper care. If you wish to take pain relieving tablets after leaving hospital, paracetamol (Panadol) are best. Avoid aspirin, or aspirin-containing compound preparations, since these tend to cause bleeding. Medications containing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ingredients (like Nurofen, Brufen, Ibuprofen, Ibuleve etc) can do the same. After any operation, it is beneficial to elevate the affected part. This reduces swelling and discomfort and speeds healing. If you have had an operation on your face, sit up rather than lying flat, and sleep with extra pillows for five days. Hands should be elevated on pillows at night and in a sling during the daytime. Similarly, a leg or foot should be rested on a high stool as much as possible.
Wounds may be sutured in a variety of ways. Non-dissolving stitches must be removed. The timing of suture removal is variable and depends mainly on the site of the wound. For the face it is between two and six days but elsewhere may be as along as two weeks. Dissolving stitches are left beneath the skin to provide support; occasionally your body does not dissolve them and instead extrudes them, so that they appear just beneath or through the wound, often several months after surgery.
Please keep your wound dry until you have been seen for review and your stitches removed. If a crust builds up around the stitches, it can be removed with a cotton bud dipped in warm water and, after washing, you should apply a fine smear of antiseptic ointment over the wound (usually Chloramphenicol “eye” ointment). When you are able to begin washing the area again, do so gently with soap and water and pat dry with a clean towel. Do not pull at the wound or soak it as this may cause it to stretch. Should your wound become inflamed or tender, you should contact us immediately.
When the stitches are out and the wound soundly healed, the scar should be massaged with a little Nivea cream twice each day for three months. This will soften the scar and help it to fade more quickly. A special silicone oil preparation called Silgel is even more effective. Most scars take three months to reach full strength and for this period are active, red and a little raised. After this they fade and flatten: this full maturation process usually takes nine months to one year but varies according to individual skin types. Those with red hair and fair skin tend to develop scars which stay redder longer than those with a darker complexion. Try not to scratch your scar as it may stretch. If itching is a problem, Eurax ointment may help.