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How do I Care for a Hysterectomy Incision?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hysterectomy incision care should be focused on keeping the site of the incision clean and dry while checking for signs of complications. Patients are usually given detailed instructions on wound care before leaving the hospital and a doctor or nurse can demonstrate wound care techniques if a patient doesn't feel entirely comfortable. Healing time varies, depending on the size and placement of the incision, as well as the patient's health. If the incision turns red, painful, hot, or swollen, or patients notice a strong smelling discharge around the wound, they should call their surgeons immediately.

Typically, initial wound care is provided in a hospital setting. The surgeon or a nurse will change the bandage on the incision and check the surgical site for any signs of complications. Once the patient is stable and can be sent home, patients will take over wound care themselves.

Some surgeons recommend bandaging the site and periodically changing the bandage for several days after surgery. Others do not want to cover the wound, and recommend that patients wear soft, loose-fitting shirts and pants for the first few days while the wound starts healing. In either case, incision care includes regularly cleaning and inspecting the wound.

To clean a hysterectomy incision, patients should use mild soap and warm water to cleanse the site without scrubbing or picking. Antibacterial soap is not necessary. Some patients like to dab the incision with washcloths or sterile sponges rather than rinsing directly under running water. While cleaning, patients should check for signs of complications like gaps between stitches, heat, swelling, pus, and extreme discomfort around the wound. Once the incision is thoroughly rinsed, it can be patted dry. Ideally, it should fully air dry before reapplying a bandage or putting on clothes.

Topical preparations should not be applied directly to a hysterectomy incision. A flow of clean air over the wound will promote healing and smearing oils or salves on it can create an infection. If the surgical site gets itchy, moisturizers can be rubbed around it to ease the itching and flaking. Gently slapping the wound can also resolve itchy feelings. People who are afraid of scratching the wound while distracted may want to leave a bandage on to cover it.

Patients with hysterectomy incisions should avoid lifting weight for several weeks after the surgery, and should take care when bending, twisting, or engaging in side to side motions like sliding into a car seat. It can be advisable to drive with a pillow or pad between the incision and a seatbelt to avoid irritating the site. In addition, sexual intercourse is generally not recommended for approximately four weeks after surgery.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By ZipLine — On Dec 01, 2013

My hysterectomy incision healed up nicely. I just rested a lot and I did not lift anything until the stitches dissolved. I did experience itching for a few days. My doctor said that this is normal. Apparently, incisions itch as they heal. I was allowed to use an anti-itch cream for it.

By donasmrs — On Dec 01, 2013

@turquoise-- I was not allowed to bathe until after 8 weeks post-surgery. Of course you can take quick showers, but it's not safe to have a bath because the incision might get infected. The same applies to swimming in a pool.

Just keep your incision clean and dry. Showers should be quick and make sure that you don't use a loofah or anything like that on the excision. If at your 8 week checkup, your doctor says that you can take baths now, then you can.

An abdominal hysterectomy incision takes a while to heal, it's best to play it safe.

By turquoise — On Nov 30, 2013

How soon after a hysterectomy procedure are women generally allowed to bathe?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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