When all goes well after an operation, the surgical wound heals, as the edges slowly but surely meet each other and are held together by sutures or staples. A possible complication in this process is dehiscence, also known as wound separation. It occurs when the edges of the wound fail to meet, causing the incision closure to give way. Mild dehiscence only affects a single staple or suture, while severe cases can cause the entire incision to pull away and re-open the wound.

Here's what patients should know about wound dehiscence treatment and prevention:

surgeons performing operationWound dehiscence is a possible post-surgery complication.

Wound dehiscence causes

There are several possible causes of wound dehiscence, including patient malnourishment and surgical site infection. According to Verywell Health, stress on the wound caused by movements like coughing, sneezing or vomiting can also cause the incision to open. Obese patients may also be more susceptible to dehiscence because the incision closures must be stronger to account for additional tissue weight.

Wound dehiscence treatment

If you notice any signs of dehiscence, contact your surgeon as soon as possible. Most cases will call for antibiotics to prevent infection from reaching the newly opened wound. Your surgeon will create a new surgical closing, and the wound will be monitored carefully thereafter. Ultimately, however, the best wound dehiscence treatment is prevention, as noted by the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine.

Wound dehiscence prevention

Surgeons should only perform surgery under the best possible circumstances, namely when the patient's immune system is at its strongest. For instance, a patient with a cold would be at higher risk of dehiscence due to regular coughing and sneezing, so surgeons may postpone the operation until the patient feels better.

Verywell Health advised holding pressure over the affected area with your hands or a pillow to brace when sneezing, laughing, coughing or performing any activity that may put stress on the surgical wound. Additionally, avoid eating a diet that may cause constipation, monitor allergies carefully to prevent sneezing and coughing and do not lift anything heavier than five pounds for at least two weeks after the surgery.

Practicing proper wound care after surgery is among the most effective ways to prevent complications like dehiscence. Talk to your doctor about smartPAC by Advanced Tissue to get your wound care supplies delivered straight to your front door. With video tutorials and single-dose packaging, smartPAC makes it easy to practice proper wound care at home.