When a surgical incision bursts open, wound dehiscence occurs.

When an incision breaks open after surgery, wound dehiscence occurs. According to Baylor, Scott & White Healthcare, a medical practice in Temple, Texas, wound dehiscence normally happens about a week after surgery and can be dangerous if not treated promptly. If the wound site is bleeding or painful to the touch, you likely have a dehisced wound. 

What causes wound dehiscence?

  • Improper suturing: If the surgeon applies sutures that are too tight, the incision is more likely to split open.
  • Increased stress to wound area: If too much pressure is put on the surgical wound, it has a greater chance of breaking open. Lifting heavy items or engaging in rigorous physical activities can put too much stress on the incision.
  • Weakened immune system: Patients with weakened immune systems, like diabetic and cancer patients, have an increased risk of wound dehiscence because their skin’s integrity is compromised.
  • Infection: If bacteria gets in a surgical wound, the incision is more likely to burst open.

How do you prevent wound dehiscence?

  • Eat a healthy diet: A nutritious diet is essential for speedy wound healing and prevention of wound dehiscence. Fill your diet with healthy foods like fish, chicken, eggs, leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits.
  • Take it easy: Sitting around all day may get boring, but it is important to limit physical activity as much as possible. If you lift something too heavy or exercise too vigorously, you can break the surgical incision. If your job is very strenuous, it is wise to take time off until your incision heals.
  • Be careful when coughing: Coughing might not seem like anything to worry about, but repetitive coughing can actually weaken your incision. When you do have to cough, put a pillow on the wound and apply firm pressure to it. Doing this will reduce stress on the surgical site. If there is no pillow nearby, you can brace the incision with your hand.
  • Avoid constipation: Struggling to have a bowel movement can put a lot of stress on your incision, causing it to split open. Do your best to prevent constipation by eating fiber-rich foods and drinking eight glasses of water each day.


Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.