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Care of Your Incision

While in the hospital, follow your doctor's instructions. After discharge, most surgeons would agree that it is safe to wash your incisions (directly over the tapes) daily with mild soap and warm water. Avoid vigorous scrubbing. The tapes may even fall off on their own. Seven days after discharge you can remove any tapes that remain. You might go home with staples in your leg. The visiting nurse will take the staples out as ordered by your physician. Keep in mind that incisions may sunburn easily. Be sure to protect your incisions from over exposure to sunlight during the first year after surgery. The scar will pigment more (be darker) if exposed to sun. Do not apply any lotions, creams, oils, or powders on your incisions, unless prescribed by your cardiac surgeon.

Check your incisions every day. Notify your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Increased tenderness of the incision line
  • Increased redness or swelling around the edges of the incision line
  • Any drainage from the incision line
  • A persistent fever

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