Skip to Content

Surgical Site Infections

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

A surgical site infection (SSI) is often caused by bacteria. It may develop 10 days to several weeks after surgery. Without treatment, the infection may spread to deeper tissues or to organs close to the surgical site.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You feel short of breath.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.
  • You are confused.
  • Blood soaks through your bandages.
  • Your wound comes apart or feels like it is ripping.
  • You have severe pain.
  • You see red streaks coming from the infected area.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have more pain, redness, or swelling near your wound.
  • Your symptoms do not improve.
  • You have new drainage or a bad odor coming from the wound.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

Keep your wound clean and dry. You may need to cover your wound when you bathe so it does not get wet. Clean your wound as directed with soap and water or wound cleaner. Put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

Help your wound heal:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Examples include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Healthy foods may help you heal faster. You may also need to take vitamins and minerals. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Manage other health conditions. Follow your healthcare provider's directions to manage health conditions that can cause slow wound healing. Examples are high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause slow wound healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 to 2 days:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Hide