Don´t ignore wound infection red flags
It is not common that your wound gets infected after any type of surgery but sometimes it happens. So, it’s important to be aware of the different signs that your wound is getting infected. For that reason, in this article, I mention some of the most common signs that tell you that your wound might have an infection.
If you are in the hospital or you were already discharged, but notice one or more of these signs please inform your doctor immediately. Let’s check what you need to look for when you have a wound that is not healing properly!
What is post-surgical wound infection?
Post-surgical infection or surgical site infection (SSI) is harm produced by microorganisms (virus, fungi or bacteria) after a surgical procedure. These microorganisms can enter the wound during or after the procedure.
Infections can affect the incision site or the surrounding tissues. They can also involve the skin, muscles, or deeper structures.
What are the effects of having wound infection after aesthetic surgery?
Sequelae of infection after cosmetic surgery are:
- wound takes longer to heal
- dissatisfactory esthetic outcome
- impair psychosocial well-being
- delay hospital discharge if you still in hospital
- overproduction of scar tissue
- lead to readmission and further surgery to fix the damage
What causes post-surgical infection?
Several factors can contribute to the development of post-surgical wound infections, including:
- Contamination during surgery: Despite sterile conditions in the operating theater, there is always a risk of bacteria entering the surgical site.
- Poor preoperative skin preparation or inadequate post-op after care: Inadequate cleaning or disinfection of the skin before or after surgery can increase the risk of infection.
- Compromised immune system: Patients with weakened immune systems, due to conditions such as diabetes, chronic conditions or immunosuppressive medications, are more susceptible to infections.
- Prolonged surgical time: Longer surgical procedures may increase the risk of infection as it exposes the patient to the operating theater environment for a more extended period.
- Poor wound care: inadequate postoperative wound care, such us improper dressing changes or not keeping the wound dry and clean, can cause infections.
- Poor wound healing.
- Foreign materials used during the surgery can introduce bacteria into the body and increase the risk of wound infection.
- Pre-existing infections: if you have an infection elsewhere in the body, there is a risk that could spread to the surgical site.
- Contaminated environment: Operation theaters that aren’t properly sterilized can harbor bacteria that may cause wound infection.
- Inadequate Antibiotic Prophylaxis: Sometimes, antibiotics given before surgery to prevent infections may be inappropriate or not administered according to guidelines, which can lead to ineffective protection against infection.
- Poor Health Practices: Factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, or obesity can compromise your ability to fight off infections post-surgery.
What are the red flags of wound infection?
If you have an infected wound, you may notice one or some of the following symptoms:
- Red or sore skin around the wound
- Burning sensation and hot feeling when you touch the skin
- Increased pain or tenderness around the wound.
- Pus: liquid build-up that comes out of the wound. It might be yellow or green.
- Wound bad smell
- Fever or chills
- Unwell feeling
- increased heart rate
- Increased swelling or tenderness in nearby lymph nodes.
- Delayed healing: If the wound does not show signs of improvement or healing within the expected timeframe, infection could be a contributing factor.
- Change in wound appearance: Any significant change in the appearance of the wound, such as opening up, deepening, or becoming more necrotic, might indicate infection.
- Systemic symptoms: General symptoms like fatigue, malaise, or loss of appetite can sometimes accompany wound infections, particularly if they are severe or spreading.
How can I prevent surgical site infection (SSI)?
Some of the tasks given by your surgeon to do before attending the hospital for surgery are:
- Shower with water and soap the area.
- Use antibacterial solution on the area.
- check if you have any antibiotic resistant bacteria (performed in a blood test).
- stop smoking 4 weeks prior surgery.
How can I avoid post-op infection?
- keep your hands clean and avoid touching the area if it is not necessary.
- keep your clothes clean.
- Wash your wound as your surgeon recommended (e.g. use antibacterial soap or solution on the area).
- follow all your surgeon´s instructions.
- Keep the wound dry and clean
- Take antibiotics as prescribed
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Monitor for signs of infection
- Attend follow-up appointments
A final word…
It’s key to work as a team with your surgeon and your post-op therapist in order to minimize the risk of post-surgical infections; also to monitor for signs and symptoms to avoid infection or ensure early detection and appropriate management, if it does occur. Taking care of your wound is in your hands!