How to Treat Itching after Plastic Surgery

January 30, 2013

One side effect of plastic surgery that many patients do not consider before surgery is the itchy or tingling feeling that occurs around the incision site. While it can be tempting to rub or scratch at this area, it is imperative that patients not touch the incision site for a couple of reasons. First, it can increase the risk of contamination of the wound and cause infection. Second, manipulating the incision site or surrounding skin can tear the stitches or cause the healing wound to re-open. Infection, torn stitches, and re-opened incisions are more likely to result in visible scarring after plastic surgery. Since patients prefer to reduce the appearance of scars after plastic surgery, they should avoid any activity that may slow the healing process.

To help patients prevent the itchy or tingling feeling that occurs after plastic surgery, Dr. Marcus Crawford offers these tips.

Rule Out an Allergic Reaction

The first thing that we want to do if you are experience severe itching after an operation is rule out an allergic reaction to any new product you are using. Patients may experience an allergic reaction to medications, herbs, bandages, tape, and other products that are used after surgery.

Avoid Rubbing at the Incision Area

Of course, this is a lot easier to say than do, as many patients actually unconsciously rub at the incision site or simply can't resist the urge to scratch at the area. As indicated above, manipulating the incision site in any way can result in infection or a re-opening of the wound. However, you should follow proper cleaning and bandaging instructions, including washing the wound with antibacterial soap and applying fresh gauze; at this time, you should check for any signs of infection. If an infection is present, contact Dr. Crawford's office immediately.

Ice the Area

If the itchy feeling becomes intolerable, you can try applying a soft ice pack to the area. The coolness of the ice will reduce the burning, itchy feeling that is caused by the healing wound.

Take an Anti-histamine

As a response to the wound that is caused during surgery, the body begins to naturally produce histamines; this is, in part, responsible for the itchy feeling at the incision site. The use of an anti-histamine, in oral form, can reduce itchiness. However, patients should consult Dr. Crawford before use of antihistamines to be sure that they are safe for use after surgery.

Avoid Anti-itch Creams Until the Incision is Completely Closed

Anti-itch creams will temporarily relieve feelings of itchiness. But patients should be cautious about their use on healing incisions. Using these products too early, while the wound is still open, will increase the patient's risk of infection. Anti-itch creams may be used after the incision is closed, but itching may have dissipated by this point, and the patient would be better off using a scar reduction treatment such as vitamin-E or silicone sheets.

To learn more about how you can reduce itching after plastic surgery, contact Crawford Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation with Dr. Crawford.


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