Are You at Risk of Infection?
There are certain factors that can increase your risk of infection and related complications after surgery:
Diabetic patients have an increased risk of infection following surgery. Controlling your blood glucose levels can foster successful outcomes.
Smoking compromises the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, increasing your risk of poor wound healing and other life-threatening consequences, including blood clots and pneumonia. Smoking also increases your risk of infection by 61 percent.
Chemotherapy and Radiation
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can compromise your immune system. Reconstructive surgery must wait until these treatments are complete and your surgeon determines it is safe.
A study by Vanderbilt University found that patients with an increased body mass index (BMI) had a significantly increased risk of major infection compared to patients at a healthy weight.
Heavy Alcohol Consumption
Heavy drinkers are 73 percent more likely to contract an infection after surgery. Be frank and honest with your doctor when discussing your alcohol consumption.
Symptoms of Infection
Infection is usually accompanied by symptoms such as:
- Pain, swelling, or redness at the incision site
- Discharge or excessive fluids at the incision site
- A warm sensation at the surgical site
You should contact your surgeon immediately if you notice any signs of infection because the condition can rapidly progress without treatment.
How to Prevent Infection after Surgery
Keep Incisions Clean
After being discharged from the hospital, you should practice gentle, yet thorough wound cleaning. Do not scrub the incision site, and reapply bandages and gauzes as directed by your doctor.
Take Your Antibiotics
In addition to pain medication, your doctor may prescribe oral medication to reduce your risk of infection. Take the medication as prescribed.
Review Your Meds with Your Doctor
Certain medications such as anticoagulants can result in excessive bleeding at your incision sites. Review your medications with your doctor to ensure that they are safe to take during your recovery.
Schedule a Consultation
You can minimize your risk of infection after surgery by following your doctor's instructions and knowing the signs of complications. Schedule a consultation with your doctor if you notice any abnormal symptoms during recovery.
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