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What to Expect From Your Incision Post Surgery

Caring for your incision post hip or knee surgery with Dr. Karas

What to expect from your incision/dressings and how you can expect it to recover:

What might surprise you about your surgery is how small the incision site may be. While there are variations among patients based on an individual's anatomy, the incision can be as small as four inches. After the surgery the incision site will be tightly closed using dissolvable sutures.  If you have staples or black sutures, they will remain in until your first follow up appointment.  It is OK for them to stay in for 3-4 weeks.  Until then, you can refer to your discharge instructions on how to care for the incision site ensuring that the sutures are not disrupted, hindering the healing. 

Over the next few days and weeks, it will be important that you are following these guidelines and taking care of your incision site to prevent infections, reduce scarring, and to help your body in the healing process.  

These instructions typically consist of some of the following steps: but, remember to keep in mind that each persons’ needs are different, and Dr. Karas and the team might have educated you differently. 


  1. For the first few days following your surgery it is important to ice and elevate your operated leg to help manage the swelling and, arguably more importantly, to help with the pain management of the incision site. An additional note to remember with this step is that the ice pack should never be in direct contact with your skin. Instead, utilize a washcloth to create a slight barrier between skin and ice pack so to not cause any damage. 
  2. It is not uncommon that you will also be sent home with a gauze dressing, and an ace wrap, that covers the incision site. When this is the case, you must change the gauze dressing on a daily basis to ensure that the incision site is remaining clean. You should be watching your skin incision for any signs of redness or drainage.
  3. While you will be able to shower the day after discharge home from your surgery, you MAY NOT soak in any hot tub or bathtub of any kind, or get into a swimming pool, until you are cleared by Dr. Karas. This precaution helps protect against infection and disruptions to the sutures. Additionally, when your incision site is wet, gently pat it until it is dry.

Finally, remember that all people heal differently but there are a few, very normal, things to keep in mind when monitoring your incision site at home. It is normal to have some swelling, redness and bruising post-surgery and you will likely feel some pain and fatigue for the next few days to come. However, after about two to three weeks these common symptoms should begin to reside, and you should start to feel more capable of doing more of your everyday activities. As you monitor your incision at home, do not hesitate to reach out to the office if you have any concerns about the healing process. 

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