While the loss of a limb can be physically and emotionally challenging, many people who have undergone amputation are still able to live healthy and active lives. Recuperation and rehabilitation will follow faster if the patient is armed with proper self-care information.
Below are essential tips on how to best care for the wound after operation:
Post-Amputation Wound Care
The first and most critical step towards a patient’s recovery is caring for the injury and the residual limb. Any surgical wound, such as amputation, is at risk of becoming infected. This is because of the presence of germs and other bacteria that can enter the wound site, which can lead to other complications. Your injury and how it heals will depend on the amputation location. Keep in mind that the speed in which a wound heals varies among patients. It also depends on several factors, such as the amputation’s location and the limb’s condition during surgery.
While at the hospital, pay attention as to how your doctors and nurses care for your wound. They will also give you special instructions before your discharge so that you’ll be able to care for yourself once you leave. Most amputees are inserted with a drainage tube to remove fluids after the surgery, which you will need to drain throughout the day. You’ll also need to change the gauze dressings regularly. If the amputation causes skeletal injuries to the residual limb, surgeons will use pins for bone alignment, and these devices will need to be sterilized as well.
Remember to wash and sanitize your hands before handling the injured area. When cleaning, use a mild soap and water and never use alcohol-based agents. You can dab with a sterile gauze pad or a soft cloth but never scrub the wound. Be careful when washing the limb and prevent it from getting soaked. After cleaning, make sure that the area is completely dry because dampness is a breeding ground for bacteria. Never shave around the site and always check for ingrown hairs.
Preparing for Prosthetics
As your healing progresses, you’ll need to schedule a follow-up session with your doctor so that they can remove the sutures and examine the progress of your skin. To help your limb better adjust to tolerance and pressure, do mild exercise, and gently massage the area every day. Wearing compression stockings or bands also helps prevent swelling. If you want to wear prosthetics, you will undergo a series of fittings and physical therapy.
Take Note of Red Flags
Infections after amputation are severe and can even be life-threatening. Always check your skin for any swelling and tearing. Call your doctor immediately if you notice the following:
- The residual limb is getting redder
- The bleeding from the wound
- The intense, sharp pains that don’t respond with medication
- The wound is spreading and getting larger
- The skin is warmer or colder to the touch than usual
- The thick brownish or grey discharge
Undergoing an amputation is both life-changing and overwhelming. Don’t stress and allow yourself time to get used to your new routine and resume your daily activities. Having the right mindset and proper self-care is the key to a more comfortable and faster recovery.
If you’re looking for foot prosthesis solutions, get in touch with Lindhe Xtend to see how we can help!