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Life in Motion

Recovering from Joint Replacement: Caring for Your Surgical Incision

Health & Prevention

Proper wound care is an important part of your recovery from joint replacement surgery, but caring for any wound is essential to healing. Until your wound is fully healed, it is vulnerable to infection and accidental opening from rubbing or scraping. With appropriate care, you can prevent these uncommon situations. Following these tips and instructions from from NEBH’s infection prevention team, as well as those from your surgeon, will reduce your risk and promote healing.

  • Keep the incision free of dirt and debris.
  • Practice good hand hygiene before and after any incision care:
  • Wash hands with soap and water for 30-45 seconds, taking care to wash all parts of your hands including finger tips and in-between fingers.
  • A waterless hand hygiene product such as Purell can be used as an alternative to soap and water if your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Find a quiet area without pets or small children when changing your wound dressing.
  • You DO NOT need to scrub or wash the incision.
  • DO NOT soak or submerge the incision in bath water, hot tubs or other non-sterile water sources until after a follow up appointment with your surgeon.
  • While we love our pets, it’s important to keep them out of your bed and away from your surgical incision, as they can spread bacteria.
  • Follow your physician’s specific discharge instructions.

It is important that you contact your surgeon’s office if any of the following occur:

  • You have increasing pain in the operative site.
  • There is new or increased redness or warmth since leaving the hospital.
  • There is new or increased drainage from your incision.
  • The operative site is increasingly swollen.

For more tips on preparing for and recovering from your joint replacement, watch our video series. It’s important to talk to a member of your care team if you have any questions about your recovery.

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