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How Patients Can Prevent Infection After Surgery

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While surgery may come with some risks, it can be a life-saving and life-improving procedure. One of the biggest risks of surgery is the risk of infection that may follow.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent infection following your surgery. Here are a few actions that may improve your surgical outcome.

Practice Good Hygiene

Keep your incision clean and dry. Change any dressings regularly according to your doctor's instructions and use warm water when washing the area around the incision site.

If you are allowed to shower, use soap and water to clean the incision site instead of a bath. Don't soak the wound in water.

Additionally, make sure you wash your hands before and after you touch your wound or its dressing. This prevents the spread of bacteria to and from the wound.

Take Prescribed Antibiotics

Be sure to take any antibiotics your doctor prescribes. Make sure you take all doses as directed and finish the entire prescription. This will help reduce your risk of infection.

Watch for Signs of Infection

It's easier to stop an infection when it's in the earliest stages. Be on the lookout for signs of infection, such as increasing pain, redness, swelling, or drainage from the incision site.

You can also look for changes in the color of your incision. If your incision is extremely red or even starts to turn green, you should call your doctor right away.

Avoid Exposure to Dirt & Dust

To reduce the risk of infection, avoid exposure to dirt and dust. This includes keeping away from worksites or outdoor areas with a lot of dust or dirt in the air. Keep your surgical incision covered if you can't avoid those places.

Stay Away From Tobacco Products

Smoking can impair your wound healing, so try to avoid smoking and being around second-hand smoke in the weeks after surgery. Faster healing means less chance for infection to settle in.

Improve Your Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help support wound healing and improve your body's ability to fight off infection. Aim for plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. If you aren't sure which foods will promote a healthy system, your surgeon can provide insight.

Follow the Instructions From Your Surgeon

Your healthcare team is looking out for you. Listen to their instructions regarding wound care, activity level, and any other post-operative instructions. This includes taking all medications as prescribed and replacing dressings.

If you have any questions about surgical services, talk to a medical professional near you.