In most cases, your wound will be dressed with sterile gauze and a clear, water-resistant dressing. You may shower directly over the dressing at any time. You may remove the dressing in 48 hours and begin showering over the incision then. You will notice small pieces of tape, called Steri-Strips, on the wound. You may shower over them. They should be left in place, and will eventually fall off by themselves. It is likely that your incision will be closed with absorbable sutures that are underneath the skin. They will not need to be removed in the office. In certain instances, non-absorbable sutures may be required to close the wound. These will need to be removed in the office in 1-2 weeks after surgery. Once the dressing is removed, you may clean between the sutures with a Q-tip moistened in hydrogen peroxide mixed 1:1 with water.
In general, signs of a wound infection include redness, swelling, tenderness, and drainage from the incision. If you notice any of these signs, you should call the office. In most instances, wound infections can be managed with local wound care and, occasionally, antibiotics. If there is only mild redness at the site, you can apply Neosporin ointment to reduce the inflammation – you can have local inflammation without an actual infection.
You should avoid bathing or swimming for approximately two weeks after surgery. Applying Vitamin E or medications specifically formulated to reduce scarring (eg. Mederma) have been shown to improve scarring anecdotally and can be applied once the Steri-Strips are removed. The Steri-Strips themselves help to reduce scarring by additionally reinforcing the underlying sutures and keeping the skin edges closely opposed.