Wound Care

Patient Instructions for Surgery

  • Do not stop any medications you are currently taking. This includes blood thinners.
  • Sometimes even with a minor procedure, a patient may feel anxious and nervous. We can give you medication to relax you; however, if you do take the medication, someone should come with you to drive you home.
  • You may eat your normal breakfast if your surgery is scheduled in the morning. If your surgery is scheduled in the afternoon, please eat your normal lunch. If you are a diabetic, please bring a snack with you.
  • If your surgery is for treatment of skin cancer, you should plan to spend time waiting for laboratory results. Sometimes the surgery can be more extensive than expected and may take a good part of the day. Please be patient and bring some reading material with you.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing. We ask that you wear a two-piece outfit since it will be necessary for you to remove your blouse or shirt and put on a gown.
  • Due to limited waiting room space, please try to limit family or friends to one or two persons. This will ensure your comfort, as well as the comfort of other patients who will also be having surgery the same day.
  • Please note: If you have a pacemaker or defibrillator, please notify the surgical nurse with you the day of your surgery.
  • If you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment for surgery, please contact our office as soon as possible and be sure to specify that you need to reschedule your surgery appointment.

Post-Operative Wound Care

Wound Care

Clean the surgical wound two times daily beginning 48 hours after surgery. To clean the wound, follow these steps:

  • Clean the wound with Q-Tips soaked in tap water. Remove all crusted material and any white/yellow material that can come off easily. Do not reuse Q-Tips.
  • Generously apply Vaseline with a clean Q-Tip.
  • Cover your wound with either a Telfa dressing cut to the size of the wound and secured with surgical tape or Band-Aids.

Continue to clean your wound daily until the stitches are removed or as your doctor directs. If the surgical site is swelling, you may elevate the site and apply an ice pack as long as the bandage stays dry.

Personal Hygiene

In the first 48 hours, showers or baths are allowed if the bandage remains dry. After 48 hours, the sutures may then get wet, but do not immerse the wound in bathwater. Swimming is not allowed until the sutures are removed. Heavy lifting and exercise are not allowed until the sutures are removed.


Unless the doctor states otherwise, take extra-strength Tylenol for pain as needed. Alcohol should be avoided for two days.

Contact Dermatologist if Any of the Following Occur:

  • Bleeding that saturates your dressing (spotting of dressing is expected). To stop bleeding, hold direct pressure over the dressing for 20 minutes and do not remove the dressing,
  • Fever greater than 100 degrees F or 38 C
  • Signs of infection (redness, swelling, foul-smelling drainage, pain, or heat)
  • Severe nausea and vomiting

Shave Biopsy Wound Care (Without Stitches)


Wound Care Instructions

  • Your biopsy site will be covered with a pressure dressing. This should be left in place and kept dry for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours remove the bandage and begin once-daily wound care as follows:
    • Clean the wound with warm soapy water (use a gentle soap like Dove) with a Q tip or gauze pad
    • Rinse thoroughly
    • Dry wound with a Q tip or gauze pad
    • Apply a layer of Vaseline petroleum jelly or Aquaphor to wound
    • Cover wound with a non-stick gauze pad and paper tape or with a bandaid
  • Clean the wound and replace the dressing once a day until the wound is healed completely. This should take 7-10 days.
  • Shower normally. It is perfectly fine for the wound to get wet in the shower, however, if you do this, after your shower, clean the wound as above and replace the dressing.
  • Do not submerge the wound or participate in water activities like swimming until the wound is healed.
  • You should NOT leave the wound open to the air and you should NOT allow a scab to form. Contrary to popular belief, this actually impairs wound healing and increases scar formation.


  • If significant bleeding occurs that soaks the dressing or leaks from the dressing, remove the dressing and apply direct pressure to the bleeding site with rolled up clean gauze or clean cloth. Keep constant pressure on the site for 20 minutes without removing the new dressing (this means no peeking to look at the wound for 20 full minutes).
  • Applying an ice pack over the entire area, over the gauze while holding pressure can also help stop the bleeding.
  • If bleeding continues after two 20-minute cycles of applied pressure, call the numbers below or go to the nearest emergency room.


  • Your biopsy site should not be particularly painful. You can apply ice to the area or take Tylenol for discomfort. Don’t take Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, or any other blood-thinning medications.
  • A significant increase in pain may indicate a problem. Call the office if this occurs.

Punch Biopsy Wound Care (With Stitches)

Studies have proven that wounds heal faster when scabs are not allowed to form. Follow these instructions to prevent scabs from forming. This will result in better wound healing.

  1. Leave the original dressing in place for 24 hours
  2. Clean the wound once a day. Allow water, shampoo and soap from the shower to wash over the wound.
  3. Cover the wound with Aquaphor or Vaseline and then apply a bandage for 1-2 weeks. Change the bandage daily.

We recommend that you apply Aquaphor or Vaseline to a Band-Aid or Telfa pad (non-stick gauze) with tape. If you prefer not to use a band-aid, apply a thick coat of Vaseline or Aquaphor twice daily. Keep the wound covered with Aquaphor or Vaseline at all times until for 2 weeks.

Additional Information

  • If a crust forms on the biopsy site, mix a solution of ½ tap water and ½ Hydrogen peroxide. Dip a Q-tip into the mixture and gently clean around the wound to remove the crust.
  • Take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) if you have discomfort. If you are not able to take Tylenol, ask your doctor what medicine you can take for the pain.
  • If a dissolvable stitch has been placed it will dissolve within 3-4 weeks. If the stitch is blue or black the stitch is likely non-dissolvable and will require removal. Typically non-dissolvable stitches are removed 7-14 days after the procedure.

Report These Symptoms

  • Increase in redness more than ¼ inch on each side of the biopsy site
  • Swelling
  • Increasing or severe pain
  • Drainage of pus
  • Fever over 100.5 degrees
  • If bleeding occurs which you cannot stop with firm pressure for 20 minutes