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Vacuum-Assisted Closure for Wound Healing: Care Instructions


When you have a wound that is hard to close, your doctor may treat it with vacuum-assisted closure (VAC).

VAC uses negative pressure (suction) to help bring the edges of your wound together. It also removes fluid and dead tissue from the wound area. And it can help tissue grow faster. A special covering is put over the wound. Then a tube connects the covering to a machine that creates the suction.

VAC doesn't hurt. You may feel a mild pulling on the wound when treatment first starts. Your doctor will let you know what to watch for and what to do if you have a problem with the machine.

You'll use VAC 24 hours a day, which will limit what you can do while the wound heals. How long you'll need VAC will depend on the size and type of wound you have.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • A home health care worker may come to your home or you may go to your doctor's office a few times a week to have the dressing changed. You may need it changed more often if there is a lot of drainage.
  • Your doctor will give you information on what you can and can't do. This depends on where your wound is located. Your activities may be limited during the time you're using vacuum-assisted closure.
  • You will be able to take sponge baths. Don't shower or take baths unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have a sudden increase in bleeding.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The wound starts bleeding.
  • The bandage comes off. Cover the area with a sterile bandage until you can see your doctor or your home health care worker comes by.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the wound.
    • Red streaks leading from the wound.
    • Pus draining from the wound.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The noise the machine makes changes or gets very loud. This may mean the seal is broken or the machine is not producing enough suction.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.