Dr. Dean Kane Q & A.
Q. If it keeps down swelling, why wouldn’t all doctors require this? Also, is it better to just let the scabbing or crusts from the incision stitches dry and fall off by themselves, as I was told as a kid to do with all scabs? When should these scabs be gone?
A. Good question!
With any injury, bruising, bleeding and edema (or swelling) occurs. If it collects in a pocket, the tissues cannot heal together.
- Decades ago, once the skin was lifted with a facelift and neck lift, surgeons used bulky firm to tight dressings to hold the skin together and may have used a little rubber drain to allow the fluid to evacuate into the dressings. Unfortunately, if there was bleeding or additional swelling after this type of flap surgery, the increased pressure would cut off the blood supply to the skin and it would die.
- With the advent of suction drains, the fluid could be removed without the added concern of a tight dressing.
Swelling as you know continues for 2 to 3 weeks or more following any surgery. Massage techniques have been recommended to knead the fluid to the lymphatics for drainage. Occasionally, a compression garment will help reduce swelling which impedes healing. This is offered at the risk of circulation concerns as the patient may apply the garment too tight particularly since the operative area is numb.
The use of massage, compression garment, and incision care are issues to discuss directly with your surgeon as they vary according to the individual, operative procedure and surgeons experience.
I hope this was helpful. All the best!