One of the most common and dangerous (but manageable) complications after bariatric surgery is infection and the most common reason for infection is improper wound care when patients go home. The risk of infection has decreased substantially with the advent of laparoscopic surgery. Instead of the single large incision of old, that had a greater chance of becoming infected, you will now go home with four or five tiny incisions in your abdomen. However, this does not mean that the risk of infection is completely eliminated. Some of the most important tips for any patient or caregiver handling surgical wounds include:
- Using a new, clean dressing every time the old dressing is removed to check on a wound. You will be sent home with a number of dressings. If you happen to take a peek or remove the dressing, which should only be done as detailed in your discharge packet, always replace it with a clean, sterile one.
- When managing your wounds, and this is true right up until they are fully healed, always wash your hands, thoroughly with soap and warm water. The fastest way to transmit bacteria into a wound is through unwashed hands.
- Do not use any creams or ointments even if they claim to help speed the wound healing process. We will detail any ointments needed in your discharge packet. Even antibacterial ointments, such as Neosporin, should be avoided after surgery.
- Last, but not least, is to be aware of how the wounds are healing. If the wound is not getting better, if it is becoming redder or discharging a foul-smelling thick liquid, please contact our office immediately. Another sign of infection is red streaks coming from the wound site. If you experience any kind of fever, do not try to manage it at home, but call the office immediately.
If you experience any significant symptoms that you feel may be an emergency, do not wait for a call back from our office, dial 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.