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Wound Dehiscence


Wound dehiscence happens when part or all of a wound comes apart. The wound may come apart if it does not heal completely, or it may heal and then open again. A surgical wound is an example of a wound can that develop dehiscence. Most surgical incisions that fail to heal come apart about 1 week after surgery. Wound dehiscence can become life-threatening.



  • Medicines may be given to fight an infection caused by bacteria, or to decrease pain. Ask your healthcare provider how to take pain medicine safely.
  • 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or surgeon as directed:

Your healthcare provider will need to make sure your wound is healing. He may also refer you to a wound specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Wound care:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands before and after you touch your wound. This will help to prevent an infection.
  • Clean your wound as directed. Look for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
  • Keep the wound from moving. Use splints or binders as directed.
  • Use devices as directed to help the wound heal. You may be given a vacuum device to pull fluid from the wound.

Self-care to promote healing:

  • Rest as directed. Proper rest is needed for wound healing.
  • Eat foods high in protein. Protein will help your wound heal. Protein can be found in lean meat, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy. Your healthcare provider may also recommend certain drinks for added protein.
  • Do not smoke. For planned surgeries, stop smoking 30 days before surgery. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can slow healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.

Contact your healthcare provider or surgeon if:

  • Your pain gets worse.
  • Your wound leaks fluid, or a small amount of blood.
  • You have muscle, joint, or body aches, sweating, or a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You feel like the wound is ripping apart or giving way.
  • Your wound oozes yellow or green pus, looks swollen or red, or feels warm.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual, or you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.

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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.