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How Do I Care for an Appendectomy Incision?

A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The appendectomy incision is the cut through which the appendix is removed during the surgery. After an appendectomy, the incision needs to heal and should therefore be kept clean and re-bandaged regularly. A patient should also keep an eye on the incision area to make sure it does not become infected. Care for an appendectomy incision is similar whether the procedure was an open surgery or performed laproscopically. General care practices should always be followed to allow time for healing.

During a laproscopic appendectomy, three very small incisions are made in the abdominal area. A larger cut is made when an open appendectomy is performed. Open surgery is usually needed if the appendicitis is severe or the appendix has ruptured.

An appendectomy incision needs to be kept clean, but a patient shouldn't soak the incision in a bath or get into a shower with it until she receives permission from her doctor. In the first few days after the surgery, the incision should be cleaned using a wet rag and soap. After cleaning it, the patient should thoroughly dry the incision before putting a new bandage on it.

It is important to change the bandage over an appendectomy regularly. A new bandage is required if the old one becomes wet or is visibly dirty. The incision may bleed a little but shouldn't be bleeding profusely.

When cleaning the appendectomy incision or changing its bandage, a patient should closely examine the wound. Signs of an infection include redness as well as swelling around the cut. Discharge or profuse bleeding are other signs of infection or another problem. Some patients may have swelling in the abdominal area or a fever more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) if the incision becomes infected. If signs of infection are present, a patient needs to call his doctor right away.

In addition to keeping the appendectomy incision clean, a patient needs to give her body time to heal. Strain in the abdominal area can slow the healing of the incision. To avoid pulling out stitches or other injury, a patient shouldn't climb up and down stairs, exercise vigorously, or attempt to lift heavy objects until her doctor gives her permission.

Generally, a patient can return to his everyday life within three weeks of an appendectomy. Eating a healthy diet helps the incision heal and improves overall healing. After a patient resumes his normal life, he will most likely have a scar or scars at the incision site.

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Discussion Comments

By anon347137 — On Sep 04, 2013

My doctor removed my stitches two days after an open appendectomy and now my scar is having some trouble healing. The middle of it just keeps splitting. What do I do?

By anon341804 — On Jul 15, 2013

About three or four weeks after my appendectomy, I was in the shower when the stitch of the incision point, at my belly button, retracted inside and I felt my my insides sink, and I almost passed out in the shower.

The area between my belly button and pelvic incision points is not as tight as it should be, and I feel like something may be wrong.

On a follow-up exam, I had a CT scan done and I asked if they could check for a hernia around the area and the MRI came back negative. Does anyone have any idea what it could be?

By ddljohn — On Dec 27, 2012

@turquouse-- Oh no! Well if you didn't rupture the incision while doing housework, just take it easy for at least several weeks so that it can heal.

I don't think you should be doing any housework at all. Can you have someone do it for you for a while?

Also, are you experiencing any swelling, redness or leakage at the area of the incision? If so, it might be infected and you should have your doctor look at it as soon as possible. You might need to take antibiotics. Meanwhile, just rest and you can do salt water baths which will help with the pain.

By turquoise — On Dec 26, 2012

I think I started doing housework a little too soon after my appendectomy because the incision area is hurting a lot! It's been a week and a half since my surgery and I had the stitches removed already. But it hurts more than it did in the first few days!

By ZipLine — On Dec 25, 2012

I didn't have an appendectomy, but I did have a c-section and taking care of the incision is the same in both cases.

I just made sure to keep it clean. I only washed with a sponge, with enough water to clean myself but not enough to get the incision area wet.

I also applied an antibiotic ointment on the incision after the stitches were taken out to prevent infection. While changing the bandages before the stitches were removed, I would also lightly dab it with some hydrogen peroxide to disinfect it.

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