If your skin gets a wound, even if it’s a scratch, it takes weeks to heal. The wound occurs when the skin is cut and exposed. If the cut is deeper, it will take more time to heal.
A surgical incision is a cut that a surgeon makes. This cut is usually deeper than normal wounds that you get from injuries. There are different stages through which your body heals and repairs a surgical incision and when you’ve to see your doctor. You’ll also come to know about various incision treatments and care techniques if the wound doesn’t heal naturally. Let’s see how a surgical incision heals.
Stages of healing
The healing process starts when your body gets chemical signals indicating that there’s a wound that needs to be repaired.
Thankfully, our bodies have a natural repair mechanism that has all the tools to repair wounds, no matter how deep they are. Blood is the source of all these reaping tools. The stages include:
- When you get an incision or a wound, that area starts bleeding. So, the first step is to stop that bleeding. This is done through clotting.
- Once the blood is stopped, the body starts cleaning the wound and protects the wound from infections.
- Now it’s time to build new cells and tissues.
- The final stage is strengthening the new tissues. This maturation process takes days, weeks, and sometimes months as well.
Let’s have a look at each stage closely to understand the wound healing process.
Hemostasis (Stopping the blood)
When a surgical incision is made, the wound starts bleeding. The blood usually stops within minutes, thanks to our blood clotting system. As soon as the incision is made, the blood vessels shrink so that minimum blood loss takes place. This shrinking of blood vessels is paired with the next stage to plug the wound.
The wound now clots or Scabbing over takes place. Our blood contains platelets that plug the wound by forming blood clots. The platelets gather together on the place of the incision where they are glued together with the help of a protein called fibrin. Fibrin is a “blood glue” that makes it possible to form a blood clot. This process stops bleeding completely and the area of the incision is plugged to save it from infections.
Building new tissue
Now the chemical signal in the body draws more white blood cells towards the wound. For this, the shrunken blood vessels start dilating so that more blood flows at the site of the wound. Blood is required to provide oxygen and nutrients to the wounded part of the skin. This blood also contains white blood cells or macrophages that promote the formation of new tissues.
A protein called collagen is produced that acts as a scaffold on which new tissues are built. Collagen is already a constituent of skin, making it elastic. So, more collagen is produced on which white blood cells start building new tissues. You might notice white fluid leaking from the wound. Don’t worry, there are just your white blood cells, healing your wound.
At this stage, you’ll be noticing a bump that is filled completely. Now the strengthening process starts in which the new tissues are matured. A study has shown that the new tissues are more strong than the older skin was, prior to the injury or incision.
So, how long does a surgical Incision take to heal?
It usually takes about 3 to 6 months to heal a wound. The process is slow so you have to take care of your wound throughout to prevent the wound from getting infections.
A surgical wound takes less time to heal as compared to other wounds caused by injuries. Why is that? Because the surgeon sutures the wound. The wound doesn’t remain open but the doctor stitches the wound with the help of a needle and a “thread”. This closed wound takes less time to heal. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for a surgical incision to heal, provided no infections are there.
This healing time also depends upon the depth of your incision and whether you have other health conditions that slow down the healing process.
When the healing process slows down?
The healing process slows down due to various factors discussed below:
- Remember we talked about all the tools that are present in the blood to heal the wound? So the wound should get enough blood supply so that it heals properly. If blood supply isn’t smooth, due to various reasons, the wound doesn’t heal properly.
- Diabetes, hypertension, vascular diseases, and obesity can slow down the healing process. All these conditions slow down the blood supply at the wound site.
How to facilitate wound healing?
You can speed up the healing process or facilitate slow healing by following options:
- Medicines and topical ointments that help heal the wound.
- Therapy that reduces swelling. You can try laser therapy that is a promising incision treatment to heal the incised wound, no matter how deep that is. The cold laser beam is directed by an expert doctor to the wound site in order to promote tissue growth and heal the wound faster. This laser treatment is done in laser pain therapy clinics by professionals. You might have to take more than one session of laser therapy to help your wound heal faster.
- Your doctor might do debridement; removal of dead scab to facilitate the production of new tissue.
- Special bandages speed up the healing process.
When to see the doctor?
If you think the wound is taking too long to heal or feel there’s an infection, it’s time to see your doctor for speeding up the healing process and getting rid of any infection. If your wound gets infected and remains unnoticed, it can spread and cause various health complications.
So, it’s better to consult your doctor in case of infection or slow healing.
A surgical incision is a cut made by a surgeon to perform operations. These incisions take almost 3 to 6 weeks to heal completely. Surgical incision takes less time to heal as compared to other wounds caused by injuries. This is because a surgeon “sutures” the incision to close it and hence it heals faster. If you have certain health conditions (mentioned above), you can help heal your wound faster by medicines, ointments, bandages, and therapies that heal the wound and prevent it from getting an infection.