Bleeding After Surgery: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

After surgery, it is common to have some minor bleeding from the cut (incision) made by your doctor. But problems may occur that cause you to bleed too much.

An injury to a blood vessel can cause bleeding after surgery. Other causes include medicines such as aspirin or anticoagulants (blood thinners).

Your doctor examined you to find the cause of the bleeding. You may have had imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound.

To help stop the bleeding, your doctor probably put pressure on the area and may have sewn up or cauterized (sealed) the incision. Your doctor also may have given you medicines that help stop the bleeding.

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 call line 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?

  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape. Keep the area dry at all times.
  • You will have a dressing over the incision. A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
  • If you do not have tape on the incision, wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
  • You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

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

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have bleeding that starts again or gets worse, such as soaking one or more bandages over 2 to 4 hours.

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

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 27, 2016