Incision Care After Joint Replacement Surgery

In this article, an orthopaedic surgeon shares some basic incision care for those recovering from joint replacement surgery.

October 11, 2020 | 2 min read

Your incision is an important part of your surgery. Proper care of your incision can help reduce the risk of complications such as infection and wound breakdown. Always refer to your discharge instructions or ask your surgeon for specific instructions. 

Here are some basic incision care points that I tell my patients:

  1. Keep the incision clean and dry. Do not get the incision wet until your surgeon has allowed you to do so. 
  2. Avoid putting any ointments on or near the incision unless your surgeon has specifically allowed or recommended this.
  3. If you could be exposed to soiled environments, keep your incision covered to avoid any contamination of the wound. 
  4. Sometimes, ice near your incision can be helpful to reduce swelling and pain. However, placing a dry barrier such as a clean towel between the incision and the icepack is recommended to avoid moisture and freeze injury. 
  5. Elevate the extremity that was treated to help with swelling. 
  6. Once any sutures or staples have been removed, gentle massage with one to two fingers on the tissues near the incision can help reduce scar tissue formation and can also relieve mild soreness around the incision.
  7. Wear a bandage over the incision when you are wearing tight or irritating garments to help prevent uncomfortable friction.

Remember, your personal surgeon can advise you on specific care for your unique needs. This is simply meant to give an overview of basic incision care.

Written by Guillaume D. Dumont, M.D.
Orthopaedic surgeon
Paid Consultant of Zimmer Biomet

Guillaume D. Dumont, M.D. is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Orthopaedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist in Columbia, South Carolina. He specialises in the arthroscopic treatment of hip, shoulder, and knee injuries.

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