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Incision Care

hotcoffee29hhotcoffee29 Posts: 327
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,
I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

I am 10 days post-op and a few days ago I got to take my bandage off for the first time and see my incision and take a shower!!!

It doesn't look as good as last time, this is my second surgery going through the same incision. Its about 3 inches long and I had 3 steri-strips, last time, it closed nicely, and left hardly a scar, this time, it looked red and bloody and crooked, urgh!!!

The last few days my clothes have rubbed on it and all my steri-strips have come off, the top part of the incision still bleeds and yellow drainage, enough to soak a bandaid..........above that is a golf ball sized lump. I have no fever and as red as the incision looks I do not believe it is infected, but I just wondered if this drainage is normal and if sometimes the incisions do not close all the way and heal like this?

I imagine this means I will have a bigger scar this time when it is all said and done. My doctor is in surgery tomorrow (Monday) and my post-op appointment is Tuesday morning, so I know he will see it soon and can advice me.

I go back to full time work in 3 days and I am so nervous, I feel good and my pain is better and I walk alot, but I am just so scared how I will feel after a long day back at work, can't do part time, its all or nothing, and it has to be all!!!

Any advice, thoughts, suggestions welcomed.

Thanks so much, I love this forum,



  • Hi Snadra! It is good that you have a follow up in just 2 days!

    How often in a day do you have to change the bandaide? Is the incision and skin near it hot to touch?

    This is my 3rd surgery through the same incision, so I can so understand! It just keeps getting bigger and longer. I thing the bump/swelling is typical.

    But, I would call and let them know about the drainage.

    I can so understand about the fear of returning to work! Hopefully, you can try to go slow and easy at work and can ease into it. The holiday weekend is around the corner and the kids will be getting out of school. For me, that helps to reduce my "work" load at home! No more homework, packing lunches, after school practice and last minute running to the store to be able to complete a project!

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! Let us know how you are doing! Wishing you the best!

  • Wow! You are going back to work quickly.

    I have only had one back surgery, but had problems with my incision.
    It is about 6 inches long and the top 2 or 3 inches weren't held together properly and so took a very long time to heal. It continued to have drainage for about 5 weeks! Because the wound was open for so long, I got an infection and had to have antibiotics and have the wound cleaned and dressing changed regularly. Then the wound started to form over granulation tissue (I think because it wasn't closed properly) and had to be cauterized with silver nitrate. Eventually at 6 weeks, I could take the dressing off!

    I have been told that the step that is in my scar at this point, will eventually level out and go flat. It is very tender and sensitive and still very red. It is going to be a much wider scar at this point. My physio said we need to work on the scar tissue to try to flatten it. What does this mean??

    I am wondering about using Bio-Oil on my scar. Has anyone tried this? Did it help you?

    I feel that I am in a hurdle race, and the hurdles just keep coming up. As soon as I jump over one, the next one is on the horizon. I can't wait to get to the flat bit of the race!! :D

    Sandra, I hope that your incision will heal well, and this is just a short lived blip in its healing. It will be good to get it looked at, and hopefully it won't need any special treatment.

    Keep healing
  • I have to admitt..when I did the Axialif, that is the one thing that surprised me. I had no drainage tubes or anything. Scab was off in under 12 days.

    Best of luck to your recovery. I hope the procedure I have becomes more common place and less experimental and more insurance companies pay for it.. I have a feeling it will be the future of back surgery...so much less invasive.
  • Shari, I do feel the incision area and its not hot, alot of redness and the incisin line itself is black and bloody. I keep a bandaid on the top part because thats the part thats draining, it soaks up the bandaid but I only change it daily so its not an excessive amount but I feel that means it never closed properly if it is still leaking fluid.

    I doubt very much its infected, thank goodness because its a big risk, but I see my doctor tomorrow morning and I'll know if he is concerned about it or not.

    Jelly...I think your PT may be taking about massaging your scar. After my last surgery, my PT would always do that, and always across the way, opposite direction of the scar, and that helps with the lumps and healing of the area, he told me to have my husband do it for me too, so maybe its worth a shot.

    Mavrick, I am glad to hear that you had no problems with your scar and incision site. I didn't last time so I guess I was surprised by how different it looks this time and how slowly its healing.

    Overall I am recovering well and my legs feel much better after this surgery, all my pain is centered around the surgical site. I go back to work in 2 days, I don't feel ready, I am worried about the pain and the stiffness in my back and just being tired, but doc said I could and hubby wants the pay check, so it doesn't really matter what I feel!!!!!

    Yesterday I got so mad being such a burden to everyone, hubby making it clear he is tired of having to do everything, I drove to the store and did all the grocery shopping, lifted the bags and put everything away. I can walk well so it appears I am healed...............no one understands the pain you feel or the discomfort in my back, but I just have to get on with things because no one will do it for me!! Maybe some post-op pain and depression and frustration is setting in but I know I am not too happy right now!!!

    Thanks for letting me vent, promise to smile next time!!

    Hope everyone is having a better day than me!!! LOL
  • I so know how you feel and I feel for you! Hang in there! School is almost out and that should free up your kids to be able to help you more. I think you should go on "strike"!

    I have done it before and just declaired myself on "strike". I called a family meeting, explained my feelings and what I was going to do (or rather, not do)! After a few days, they were more than happy to help!

    PLEASE take care of yourself. My hubby pushed me too after my first surgery. 4 days after my first surgery he flew me and our daughter who was 8 at the time, to my mom's so he didn't have to do the work. So 4 days post op I am making my way through the Houston airport with an 8 year old!

    Not his best choice.

    In hind site he is sorry now. Shortly after I was having more symptoms again!

    Take care of yourself and if it is too much, it is too much! It's a lot easier to be off now than it would be if you face a fusion! My hubby learned the hard way and now he isn't pushing! I've been off with zero pay since Feb!

    We are here for you! Vent all you want to! Hang in there and please take care of yourself, putting yourself first! hugs Shari

  • Back surgery is a difficult recovery and there is a lot going on that isn't visible, so we often don't get the care and support that we need and deserve.

    It is very frustrating to be so dependent on others, especially when they have had enough of us needing so much help from them. BUT, you must look after yourself. You are important to the rest of the family. For a while, you need to give up your responsibilities. If you don't allow your body the time it needs, you could set your healing back, and even cause problems.

    Try to talk to them and explain how you are feeling.
    Take care of yourself! :-)

    Gentle hug >:D<
  • I know you ladies have had your share of Ups and Downs in this journey of back surgery and recovery.

    I am my own worst enemy, today I cleaned the bthrooms, I did the dishes, 2 loads of laundry and made dinner...so that when my husband gets home from work, there is nothing for him to do!! I know I shouldn't be doing any of that this early on, and I truly don't want to mess up this surgery....this was my second chance to eliminate the pain!

    I know I should talk to my family, I am also dealing with the fact that my mom was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, she lives in England and I am flying to see her in July, this will probably be the last time I will see my mom and its hurting so bad! My mom is only 63 and we are very close. My children have been great, they really try to help and have been sweet.

    Shari, I can't believe your husband made you fly so soon! Oh my, well I am glad he learned his lesson, lol that had to be rough.

    When I go back to work its only for a few weeks, but its in that few weeks that scares me that I could do something hurtful to cause a setback, thats what bothers me. I start at 5:30am on a school bus for an hour, I am a Teacher Assistant in class all day until dismissal at 1:15pm and then a school bus ride home for an hour, I am home around 2:30pm....which is when I plan to flop into bed!!!

    Tomorrow morning I will have a better idea of where I am at when I see my doctor and maybe my husband will be talking to me by then, hasn't spoke to me in 2 days!! I am taking myself to my post-op appt, he doesn't even want to go, says he is working and can't make it, oh well!!

    Thanks so much for all the support, your awesome ladies, thank you, thank you!!!

    Sandra xx
  • We are here for you. There is not much practical stuff we can do for you, but we can listen and care (and tell you that you are doing way too much!)

    I am a Teaching Assistant too, and know that working in a school is very busy. Will you have to sit for an hour each way on the school bus? Will you manage that? I certainly couldn't sit for that long.

    I am so sorry that your husband isn't being very supportive. I hope that you have a good meeting with your doctor tomorrow. Do ask him about how much you are doing, and ask if he thinks that you will be ok. It would be awful to spoil his work and be back to where you were. Even if the house didn't get cleaned, your back healing well, is much more important. Please look after yourself well Sandra.

    I am so sorry to hear how ill your mother is. My father died of lung cancer, and it was a very difficult time. Where in England does she live? I am in Sussex. I hope that your flight is comfortable and that your time spent with your mum is very special for you both.

    I'm glad that you have somewhere to vent. :-)
  • I am so sorry to hear about your mom! You really need to give your back this chance to heal so that you can enjoy your visit with your mom.

    I lost a very dear friend in July to lung cancer. She lived across the street from us and we were all remarkably close. At one point while she was going through chemo, I gave her a windchime and hung it outside her window.

    I told her each time she heard it chime, she would know that someone is praying for her.

    It now hangs outside my bedroom window and each time I hear it chime, I know she is with me!

    Hopefully, your hubby will be talkative tonight. But, if he isn't....sometimes men have such a difficult time with things they can't fix! And, they love to crawl into their cave!

    Hang in there! We are here for you! Will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!
  • Oh Ladies, you are too kind, with all my heart....thanks.

    I only have a minute here, family is waiting on me getting dinner on the table (I am not kidding). Hubby has still not said one word to me since he got home from work.

    My mum lives in Chelmsford is Essex, I fly into Gatwick.

    I have just discovered a swollen, painful lymph node in my groin! I suddenly felt pain, and when I touched it I felt this lump!! I have never ever had anything like this before, could this be related to the surgery? Does this mean my incision could be infected or its the MRSA??? I am so scared and I am just keeping it to myself, I will tell my surgeon in the morning and see what he thinks.

    Oh boy, hungry kids looking at me, I will check back in later, thanks for all your support.

  • I'm sorry to hear about your dear Mom. I pray you'll get to see her soon. I hope everything turns out alright for you as you see the Surgeon and hopefully find out what that lump is and what's going on with your incision. Would it be possible to find a student or someone to come in and clean your house? I found a support cleaning service the same company that does meals on wheels and their cleaning service is only $27. to clean the house. Keep us posted how you're doing and hope you'll manage at work going back so early. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • It is very sad about my mom, it breaks my heart, I cannot imagine life without her in it. I called her up tonight crying about this lump I found and how painful it is, I dread the day I can't hear her voice....

    Thank goodness I have my doc appt in the morning because I am very worried, my incision has taken on that angry red, hot look....I do believe there is an infection or the start of one. I was colonized with MRSA, my fear is MRSA, when I felt the swollen lympth node in my groin it just came as a shock and wonder if its because its the closest gland to my back and my incision. Hopefully a course of antibiotics is all I need then I will have no worries.

    I just need to rest when I get home from work and put my kids to work to help with the household chores. Between us all we can get it done without me having to rely on my husband. I have been very stubborn the last few days since he stopped talking to me and I have done way too much and the only one hurting is me because he doesn't care, stood back at watched me!!!

    Oh well.....It will pass...

    I'll post tomorrow after I have seen my doc...oh and $27 to clean the house would be awesome, if I found someone that cheap I would probably do it!!!

  • I am leaving soon for my post-op visit.

    I was so worried last night, I was running a low grade fever...incision was hot and red and ofcourse the swollen lymph nodes.

    However this morning no temp, incision looks better than it has all week!!! I still have the swollen lymh nodes and pain, so I am curious to hear what the doctor thinks about all this unusual symptoms.

    I am so nervous............urgh! I always feel like I am buggin the doctor if I complain something isn't right or I still have pain, I just discussed this in another forum, its crazy I know!!!

    Ok, I am rambling because I am nervous, I am nervous about returning to work tomorrow too and hubby is on day 3 of not talking to me and completely ignoring me!! Life is grand :)

    Thanks for listening,
    Time to go get ready.................
  • Please don't worry about venting! That is what we are here for!

    Please let us know what the doc says! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! Praying for peace, strength and a complete recovery!

    Do you have a written list of questions? If not, I would write them down. Doctors have a way of breezing into the room and all our questions go out the door! :)

    We are here for you! gentle hug! Shari
  • I'm thinking of you too! :-)
    We are waiting to hear how you get on.
  • To have people who care!! Ah this forum is awesome for having a way to express our ups and downs and relating to others who understand is huge.

    Well surprise surprise, my husband came home from work to take me to my appointment, I didn't even know if he remembered I had one!! Thank goodness the silent treatment is over, I couldn't stand it any more!!

    The doctor kept trying to leave but I kept asking him questions....but he said my incision is healing nicely, I was surprised to be honest, still very swollen so he told me to keep icing it. I am healing well, 6 weeks for full recovery, told me I can stay off work for the rest of the year, but I do want to go back, so he signed me off for a month and told me to call him when I want to go back and he will release me, I have decided next week, monday is a holiday so I will return Tuesday June 1st, that gives me a whole week more to rest.

    He is a little concerned about the lymph node swelling, not sure why I have it, may be related to my gyno issues....but I must keep an eye on it. He is not sure if I will be ready for my hysterectomy on June 14th due to the position I will have to be in for surgery, so he told me to start exercising and he will see me again on June8th to see if I am limber enough to proceed, he wanted me to wait, but if I do that then I cannot fly to England....my OBGYN told me I had to wait 6 weeks to fly due to blood clots and I am pushing it at almost 5 weeks.

    I got another script for pain, so that will help me through the next week as i start stretching. My muscles tightning he said is all normal post op and muscle relaxers won't help. He said its good news that I have no pain in my legs, so fingers crossed this is it!!

    Overall I am feeling much better after todays visit, feel bad for work because I know the teacher I work with is going nuts without me and she was really hoping I would be back tomorrow but I just know I am not ready.

    Thanks so much to all of you for listening to me rant and rave, lol How are you all doing?

    Gentle hugs :-) right back at you!!!
  • Wow, it sounds as if many prayers have been answered and I am so happy for you!

    It's great to know your hubby came around! It seems as if men have such a hard time when they can't be the "fixer". I am so glad to hear he went with you!

    I am glad that you will have more time to be at home to rest, although you know I don't think it is enough time :) Please do force yourself to rest, other than when you are doing your exercises.

    You sure do have your plate full! But I understand what that's like. Life doesn't always allow for you to plan things neatly and we have to just do our best!

    Hopefully your incision will respond to the ice! My first 2 surgeries I had a hard time getting back into my clothes because of my swelling in my back.

    This time not only do I have that, but I have abdominal swelling also! It stinks. My waist is 3 inches more than it was, down from about 10 inches more when I came home from the hospital. I am worried it is turning into flab and it is heart breaking but I am trying! Thankfully, I can't feel anything on the left side of my low back where 2 of my insicions are. I don't know if the feeling will come back or not. I don't care if I can just "lose my middle"! :)

    We will be here, cheering for you and offering our support! Have a great day and please ask your family to help! :) Shari

    I have forgotten to ask, how is your son? did he have strep?
  • Yes! Your prayers helped!! I am glad that my husband came around and was at this important doctor visit.

    My son did not have strep but he continues to have a sore throat and cold symptoms and he had toe surgery last friday, he had to have part of his nail removed from the root! Poor boy is miserable, he is 11.

    I have 2 other children aswell, my daughter is 15 and just got her learners permit and wants to go driving all the time and I have a special needs son who is 13 and is just a joy! He is of pure innocence and he just makes me smile.

    How old are your children Shari? And you Jelly, you have children too, how old?

    Shari, why do you have so much swelling? Are the doctors doing anything to help with your swelling? I am sure if its inflammation it won't turn to flab but I understand why you would be concerned! Hopefully it will start to go down soon, I know your recovery has been a tough road....your very strong, keep going! You know we are all behind you. I have to get out walking but its soooo hot here that it makes it difficult to want to get up and go. I find myself lying on the couch too much, how much rest/exercise is appropriate at this point?

    I sent the teacher I work with the news that I won't be returning until next week to work, she has not responded so I know she is not happy, that makes me feel guilty!! But its just 3 more work days but it gives me an extra week to heal.

    Hopeing your having a good day today Shari and thank you for all your support.


  • So glad that your husband took you to your appointment. He did the right thing :-) Hopefully you'll get talking again now.

    Sounds like your doctor is pleased with you and it is so good that you have more time before you need to return to work. You don't need to feel guilty Sandra. You must look after yourself and heal properly from this. The teacher would do the same thing and take the time off if she was in the same position.

    I visited my school to take in a certificate today. I received such a lovely welcome; from the adults and children. It felt lovely. Then this evening, I have been to my Bible study group. I really feel like I am getting back to my life :-)

    My three children are grown up now. My daughter is 31 and married with a 3 year daughter of her own. I have two sons, one of 29 who is living at home and has gone back to college. My other son is 21 at away at university; doing his finals at the moment.

    Prayers now for the lymph node swelling and wisdom about what to do with your other op and a safe and comfortable flight over here to see your mum (and a very special time for you both :-))

    Wishing you both, lots of healing and hope for a brighter future. :D

    Take care, my spiney friends
  • awww Jelly, that is so nice that you were welcomed so warmly from the kids and staff, it feels good to know they care and they miss you.

    I am glad to hear you feel like you are getting pieces of your life back, thats great news.

    Your children sound as though they are doing well, thats a blessing too....I hope you enjoy your summer and you continue to improve every day.

    Take care,
  • I was thinking of you this morning! I have been so preoccupied with my abdominal incision as it is ugly! dark, painful, and may be difficult to hide in a swim suit (IF I ever get back to a 2 peice :()

    But today I really looked at my incisions on my back. The gigantic one along my spine is thick as this is the 3rd time they have went through there. It is much thicker that it was last time. It goes from mid back all the way down as far as it can (hubby calls it an extended butt crack). From there, there is a diagonal incision that goes across my left butt check up to the top of my hip. My hubby calls it a check mark! :) as it looks like one!

    I promise with time your incision will look better! If it can be seen, then people will know you are one amazingly strong woman so look out! :)

    I used to think that I could do anything because I had given birth to a 8lb 4oz 21 inches long baby! Ha :)

    Now, I know I can do anything because I am a member of this exclusive spinal club!

    I do only have one daughter> We wanted more, but it was very difficult for my body to carry her. I went into labor at 26 weeks, but they held her off until 36 weeks. We cherish her!

    I now work with special needs babies who are from birth to 3. It really is my calling. I know now that if I had more children, I wouldn't be working (at least not in this capacity).

    I hope you are resting! It is so hot and humid here that I haven't been walking much outside. I do go to stores, Target, etc and walk often for an hour, in the a/c. Or I use the pool, but I'm guessing it is too soon for you to be able to do that.

    Will you be going to PT? You will want to have a good strong core for a life time to protect above and below your surgery site. As well as to learn and use back protection body mechanics!

    Thinking of you! :) Shari
  • So good to hear from you! I hope you always hang on to that sense of humor you have, it really helps to get you through some of the tough times.

    Your scars sound so big, I have no room to complain! I am sure yours will also diminish in time. Can you put anything on the scars to help them? They are definately a symbol of how strong a woman you are!!

    I know that a fusion may be in my future because if the disk continues to degenarate at L5-S1, that will be the next form of treatment. When I had my discoram, my surgeon said it was negative, so he said I didn't need a fusion. I was in so much pain that I still question that test, but I didn't fly off the table so he said negative!!

    My incision is looking a whole lot better and the swelling is going down. Its still pretty red but I guess thats ok. I have swollen lymph nodes in my groin and I was told its probably due to inflamation.

    Here's hoping you can get into that 2 piece real soon! Don't give up, you can do it!! I am not going to PT, my doctor said as long as I remember the exercises and stretches then I can do them on my own, and I have to really work hard at it, because I am scheduled for a hysterectomy on June 14th, and I can't have the surgery unless my spine surgeon releases me and says I am limber enough to be in stirrups for the 2 hour surgery, so I have to keep it up....its painful!!!! I really have to be ready for this next op, if not I will have to wait until next summer and that would not make me happy!!

    I think its wonderful that you work with special needs kids. The people who have been involved in my sons life have been a blessing, it takes a special person to work with these kids.

    I hope you have had a great day, keep smiling my friend....your very brave and you sound like a wonderful, sweet person too :-)
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