If you or someone you care for has gone through a surgical procedure, you may have a lot of questions. One of the most common questions is, “how long does it take for surgery incisions to heal?”
After a surgery, healing the surgery incision(s) is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Although a surgical incision is typically made as discreetly as possible to promote safe and efficient healing, there is no magic button to press to speed through open surgical wound healing time.
The healing of a surgical incision is often expedited by the surgeon sealing the wound edges with surgical glue, sutures, or staples in the operating room. These tools may cut down how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal.
Some surgical wounds, meanwhile, cannot be sealed in this way to accommodate drainage or other requirements of the operative site. Sometimes, doctors leave an open surgical incision untreated after the procedure or may even reopen it after the operation in the case of an infection.
After a successful surgery, surgical wound healing may involve therapy or specific at-home treatment plans.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that may affect how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal. This article will explore those factors, explain what you should expect from the wound healing process, and share some simple tips to speed up your healing process.
So if you’re ready to get an answer to, “How long does it take for surgery incisions to heal?”, then read on.
What is the surgical wound healing process?
The body is a complex and remarkable machine, and its ability to reduce how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal is incredible. To repair damaged tissues, your body automatically sets a sequence of actions in motion. This involves a four-stage healing process.
The four stages of a healing wound are:
The hemostasis stage
Hemostasis is the medical term that describes the process of blood coagulation. This happens whenever you bleed from a cut, scratch, or other skin wound.
The first stage in the healing process is to stop the bleeding. Within seconds to minutes of receiving a wound, including a surgical wound, blood starts to coagulate.
During hemostasis, your body also forms a scab, which aids in the closure and protection of the wound.
If your incision has stopped bleeding, congratulations! You have completed the hemostasis stage.
The inflammatory stage
The inflammatory stage is the second stage of the wound healing process. Cleaning and stabilizing the wound are the primary objectives of this phase.
In this stage, your body creates a barrier against infection while also getting rid of the microbes and debris obstructing healthy wound healing.
Health experts note that inflammation is crucial to the healing of wounds because it aids in preventing infection and controlling bleeding.
You may undergo swelling, redness, or pain as your wound heals during this phase. You might see a clear liquid surrounding your wound, and your skin may feel warm to the touch. All of these indicate signs of a healing wound.
Of course, this stage should only last a few days and your wound should never return to the inflammatory stage after passing into the proliferative stage. If it does, these are signs of a wound not healing.
The proliferative stage
The proliferative stage, the third phase of wound healing, is when the repair process really starts. In this stage, your body quickly lays down new collagen fibers to fill in the wound site.
The duration of the proliferative stage is typically 4 to 24 days. Keeping the new tissue on injuries clean and moisturized will aid in the healing time.
The maturation stage
The maturation stage, also known as the remodeling stage, is the final phase of wound healing. This phase's objective is to make the repair stronger.
At the end of the proliferative stage, even if the incision is closed and appears to be healed, it still takes time for the skin to become more flexible and durable.
In the maturation stage, your body reorganizes and aligns the collagen fibers it laid down in the proliferation stage to smooth out your scar tissue and strengthen the wound site.
During this stage, which is the longest, there are quite a few things you can do to affect how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal.
Factors that may affect how long it takes an incision to heal
So far, we've explored what a surgical incision is and the four stages of wound healing. If you’re really wondering: “How long does it take for surgery incisions to heal?”, you should be aware of the different factors that can affect healing time.
These factors include, but are not limited to, age, infection risk, blood sugar levels, body type, and the type and size of the incision.
How long does it take for surgery incisions to heal based on your age? Wounds in older individuals may heal more slowly than those in younger individuals.
As we age, inadequate dietary intake, hormonal changes, dehydration, and weakened immunological, circulatory, and respiratory systems become risk factors for skin breakdown and slow wound healing.
Your body may have trouble warding off infection-causing microorganisms if your immune system isn't operating optimally.
If your infection is not treated and is allowed to worsen, it may result in gangrene or sepsis, among other consequences. These serious illnesses can impact how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal.
If you have to ask, “Why is my operation wound not healing?”, the answer may be that an infection is growing. If so, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Blood sugar levels
Blood sugar may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal, but the likelihood of infection is increased if blood sugar levels are higher than usual.
If there is excess sugar in the bloodstream, bacteria can thrive there. Additionally, immune cells may be unable to defend themselves against invasive microorganisms when blood sugar levels are high.
A higher-than-normal blood sugar level prevents nutrients and oxygen from energizing cells, prevents your immune system from functioning efficiently, and increases inflammation in the body's cells. These effects can slow down open surgical wound healing time.
Surgical wound healing may also be impacted by a person's body type. So how long does it take for surgery incisions to heal based on someone's body type? Well, a patient who is obese may have compromised wound healing due to inadequate blood flow to fat tissue.
Additionally, protein deficiency affects some overweight patients, which hinders recovery even more. On the other hand, when a patient is malnourished and underweight, how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal may be hampered by a lack of minerals and essential nutrients.
Type and size of incision
How long it takes for a surgery incisions to heal will vary depending on the sort of injury you sustain. Compared to wounds that only affect the surface layer of your epidermis, severe incisions can take months to heal.
The incision's size, depth, and shape will also affect how quickly it heals. Linear incisions typically regenerate faster since they achieve coagulation more quickly. Circular incisions, on the other hand, generally take longer because of the need for external healing.
So how long does it take for surgery incisions to heal? The answer is complicated. Surgical wounds should take about a month to heal in optimal conditions, but that doesn’t factor in underlying issues or the time spent in physical therapy.
Of course, there are things you can do to both help and hinder your wound healing time, so let’s take a look at some things to avoid during wound healing.
What to avoid when an incision is healing
There are many things to avoid or adhere to when an incision is healing. For example, poor hygiene should be avoided at all costs. Additionally, you should avoid any direct physical force on your incision while it is healing.
The stages of wound healing can also be hampered by low and inadequate nourishment. The scar-forming process can be impeded, which can cause the healing time for the incision to lengthen.
The following foods should be avoided as your body heals wounds after surgery:
- Nitrate-rich foods
Instead, it would be best to replace these with wound healing supplements and nutrients like proteins, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc.
So, if vitamins can help the healing process, what else can you do to speed up wound healing? Let’s examine your options.
What you can do to speed up the healing process
Following surgery, focusing on wound care solutions, pain management, and raising your activity level is crucial. Additionally, it's critical that you thoroughly comprehend and adhere to all of your discharge instructions.
If you are having trouble understanding the instructions, ask your healthcare professional to explain them more clearly to you.
Below are some tips for helping to speed up the healing process. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but some simple and healthy practices to speed up open surgical wound healing time.
Eat a wound-healing diet
A lot of patients and caregivers want to know, “What can I eat to make my wound heal faster?”
When it comes to the wound healing diet, it’s all about making sure your body has adequate vitamins and minerals. These include the 13 essential vitamins, electrolytes like magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and collagen for wound healing.
Given that the last stage of healing might extend for more than a year, it is critical to maintain a balanced diet and pay attention to your nutrition intake over the long term. This will not only help reduce how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal, but may also make your recovery easier.
Practice proper wound care
Wounds heal faster when covered, but only if you are taking proper care of them.
Changing dressings often can aid in bacterial reduction and proper wound moisture maintenance. In addition, dressings for wound care will vary depending on the type of surgical wound, so ask your doctor what specialized dressings they recommend.
Get some rest
Getting adequate sleep may cut down how long it takes for surgery incisions to heal. This is because sleep deprivation can cause a rise in pro-inflammatory cytokines and delay recovery.
After a surgery, it’s easy to become restless when your usual routine is disrupted, and you are experiencing discomfort from the wound site or your medication - but it’s especially important to try to get enough rest.
When you are injured, it's advised that you stay away from smoking. This is because cigarettes can slow the healing process and increase the risk of complications by constricting blood vessels and preventing vital nutrients from reaching the wound.
Take medical-grade collagen
How long it takes for surgery incisions to heal depends on A LOT of different factors. As you’ve read, one controllable factor is the nutrients you consume.
It’s no secret that proper nutrient intake can make the difference for wound healing. But many people don’t know the power of medical-grade collagen in the surgical wound healing process.
What is medical-grade collagen?
It is a class of collagen supplements that have gone through clinical testing and have ongoing case studies to contribute to the preexisting scientific research around collagen in wound healing. Medical-grade collagen is FDA regulated and proved effective in medical nutrition.
ProT Gold collagen supplements are nano-hydrolyzed, medical-grade collagen products that are recommended by nearly 4,000 doctors and nutritionists across the nation. Proven to be fully digestible in just 15 minutes or less, ProT Gold collagen is a simple solution to help you speed up your surgery healing time.