Wound Care

Most of the operations I do are arthroscopic or keyhole procedures that are done through small incisions less than 1 cm long.

These are closed with a non-absorbable suture i.e. a stitch that has to taken out because it does not dissolve by itself.

They need to come out about 10 days after the surgery. That isn’t an absolute date and it is better to take them out earlier rather than later.

Private patients usually have this done back at the hospital where they had their surgery and that appointment will be organised for you before you are discharged.

NHS patients usually have their stitches taken out back at their GP’s surgery and the patient needs to organise that themselves.

Before you are discharged the nurses will remove the nappy (yes – I do use a nappy as an absorbent dressing on top of the shoulder and over the stitch dressings) and put clean dressings over the wounds.

For baths and showers you should put a waterproof ‘Elastoplast’ over each of the stitches (between 2 and 4 usually) but, once you have dried off, remove the waterproof plaster and replace it with a breathable one. The reason for that is that if you leave the waterproof one on, the skin can become soft and macerated.

After 4 or 5 days you are actually waterproof and don’t really need to keep the stitches covered at all unless you want to. But don’t rub at them or soak them in a bath.

The same goes for larger wounds that are either closed with metal clips (taken out at 10 days) or closed with sub-cuticular stitches (dissolving stitches under the skin that don’t need to be taken out). You should keep a dressing over them for the same 4 to 5 days.

Virtually always the arthroscopic wounds will heal up very rapidly and with no problems at all. Occasionally there may be a bit of redness and swelling around the wound. This is not an infection – just inflammation – and will settle when the stitch comes out.

You should use complete sun block on the wounds for the first year after your surgery as exposure to sunlight can irritate and inflame it.

Arthroscopic wounds virtually disappear after 6 months. You will barely know they were there.