Post-Surgical Wound Care Overview

Like any other wound, a surgical wound needs time to heal. In most cases, the body begins the healing process right away and improves steadily in the days and weeks following surgery. However, in some cases, surgical wounds don’t heal properly due to infection of the surgical site or other underlying factors. If you have diabetes or other conditions that affect your immune system or blood flow, surgical wounds may take longer to heal. Your doctor will watch for signs of infection or poor healing after surgery, and you’ll be given instructions on how to properly take care of surgical wounds at home.

Should you need any wound healing treatments to help your recovery, you’re in good hands with the wound care specialists at MedStar Health. In addition to wound healing services, our team has special training in surgical wound care and preventing infection.

Our approach to care

Surgical wounds that don’t heal are treated with the same techniques as other non-healing wounds. First, our wound care specialists evaluate the wound and run tests to gather information on your nutritional status, blood flow, tissue oxygenation, and the presence of infection. We coordinate with other medical specialists to create a wound care treatment program to address any underlying factors you may have and identify the best treatments to promote healing.

Treatment options for non-healing surgical wounds may include:

  • Debridement is the medical removal of damaged or infected tissue to improve the healing ability of remaining tissue
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) delivers oxygen to the wound by breathing 100 percent oxygen in a special chamber, increasing blood flow to affected areas to heal your wounds faster
  • Negative pressure wound therapy uses a vacuum-assisted closure dressing to remove fluid through suction, reduce the risk of infection, and improve blood flow
  • Skin grafting involves placing skin substitutes over a burn or non-healing wound to permanently replace missing skin or provide a temporary wound cover

Wound Healing Institute

Wound healing is complex and often involves many disciplines. Our team includes specialists in internal medicine, infectious disease, vascular surgery, foot and ankle surgery, podiatric surgery, prosthetics, and rheumatology. We offer the most advanced treatment for non-healing and hard-to-heal wounds, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which uses the power of oxygen to heal your wounds as you rest in a specialized treatment chamber.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, DC 20007

866-990-5515

MedStar Health: Podiatric Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

106 Irving St. NW
POB North
Ste. 3400
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101

866-990-5516

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr
Baltimore, MD 21237

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I take care of post-surgical wounds?

    You may have gauze or bandages applied to your incisions following surgery. Your doctor will provide specific directions on how to clean and care for the surgical site and change the dressings. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding limiting any activities that might rip or tear at the incision.

  • How can I prevent infection of my wound?

    Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly (including under the nails) and dry your hands before handling your wound. Washing your hands prevents infection by keeping bacteria away from your wound. You should also take special care when washing the wound itself. Use saline solution or soapy water to clean the area, and follow any specific instructions provided by your doctor.

  • What are the warning signs of a surgical wound infection?

    Contact your doctor right away if you experience any signs of infection, such as pus or discharge, swelling, redness, bleeding, fever, or pain around the wound site.

Additional information

How We Help Families Support Loved Ones:

It’s important for our team to try to reconnect patients and families and bridge that gap in support. We always offer to reach out to family members on behalf of the patient, and we offer programs and support services that can help family members cope and learn to be more engaged with their loved one’s health.