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Incision Care: Abdomen

Dressing your incision helps keep it clean, dry, and infection-free. That way it will heal faster. Follow the steps below.

Wash hands Remove old dressing New dressing


1. Wash your hands and set up

  • Use liquid soap. Lather for 1 to 2 minutes. Scrub between your fingers and under your nails.

  • Rinse with warm water, keeping fingers pointing down. Use a clean paper towel to dry your hands and turn off the faucet.

  • Put all your supplies on a clean cloth or paper towel. Open a plastic trash bag.

  • Peel back the edges of the dressing packages. Pour any irrigation solutions into solution cups.

  • Clean the scissors with soap and water. Cut each piece of tape 4 inches longer than the dressing.

2. Remove the old dressing

  • Put on disposable gloves.

  • Loosen the tape by pulling gently toward the incision. Remove the dressing one layer at a time. Put it right into the plastic bag.

  • Remove your gloves and put them in the plastic bag. Wash your hands again, as described above. Then put on new gloves.

When to seek medical care

Call your health care provider if:

  • Your incision suddenly opens

  • You have bleeding from the incision, or an increase in its size

  • Increased redness, swelling, or drainage

  • Pain in or around the incision

  • Change in the color of the incision

  • Fever over 101.5°F (38.6°C), or chills

3. Clean and dress the incision

  • Clean the incision and apply a new dressing as directed.

  • Put all used supplies in the plastic bag.

  • Remove your gloves last and put them in the bag.

  • Seal the bag and put it in the trash.

  • Be sure to wash your hands again.


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