The wound that wouldn't heal.
September 7, 2009 8:22 PM   Subscribe

YANASurgeon filter: two months ago, I had surgery. today, I am dealing with the incision opening back up for the second time. How/why and what can i do to stop it?

Back in June, I had a sebaceous cyst and a small tumor removed from one of my breasts. The whole thing kind of sucked, but after a year of dealing with a recurring issue, I wanted to have done with it. A month after the surgery, one of my incisions re-opened. They first treated it with some hydrogen peroxide cleaning for a couple days, then they did a chemical cauterization with silver nitrate. After that, it seemed to close up and do well.

Early last week (about a month later), I started to have pain around the incision again and found that it had opened once more. Back to the surgeon I went and he did another round of silver nitrate. The hole was not very large and rather shallow, so we all expected this to take care of it. Three days later, the hole has gotten bigger and deeper.

So while I know you are not my surgeron, has this (or something similar) happened to you? No one seems to be able to tell me why it keeps happening nor what to do to prevent it. I am keeping it clean and bandaged at this point, but is there something else I should be doing? Is this just a waiting game to see if it'll close up and stay that way?

(and, yes, I am calling my surgeon in the AM to follow up about the situation, just looking for any anecdotes, advice, etc in the meantime.)
posted by itsacover to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Anecdote: Someone I know learned she had diabetes in part because the incision from a (more invasive) surgical procedure wouldn't heal. I imagine there are other medical conditions that could cause difficulty with wound healing. IANAD, etc etc.
posted by ecsh at 9:09 PM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recently had minor surgery and learned that there are several ways to put things back together, and a good surgeon will chose wisely. Fortunately, my incision has healed OK and I'm grateful to my surgeon for that.

Now, IANAD but my opinion is that this should not be happening to you. One, it sounds to me like your surgeon didn't close the incision correctly during the operation (poor technique? wrong methods?). Two, your surgeon's two repairs haven't worked either (again, technique, method?). You haven't mentioned any extenuating circumstances that made your surgery or recovery difficult, so I'm going to blame your surgeon for all this. If I were you, I'd be consulting a different surgeon to get your incision closed and healed once and for all. Best wishes for a complete recovery.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:09 PM on September 7, 2009

There's no chance you could have scurvy, is there? I know it's unlikely, but it's the first thing that popped into my non-doctor mind when I read that your wound was reopening.
posted by coppermoss at 9:17 PM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had a similar experience with a surgical wound and it was because I am sensitive to surgical tape. Are you getting any redness/rashes near the tape? In my case, I just ended up having to keep the open wound covered long enough to form scar tissue, which was removed in an outpatient procedure a few months down the road.

Are you a smoker? Because smoking can also affect this type of thing. Memail me if I can provide further details about my experience.
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:25 PM on September 7, 2009

I agree with Exphysicist345, it's time for a second opinion from a different doctor. Maybe one that can provide a little insight as to why your incision is opening up, and maybe give you a few alternatives other then cauterization. Good luck!
posted by xexe at 9:30 PM on September 7, 2009

Can you get your GP to refer you to a wound care specialist (and pop off a round of blood tests, including a hemoglobin A1c, to rule out teh diabeetus and other such conditions)? They may have better options for dealing with your incision.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:37 PM on September 7, 2009

What you are experiencing is called wound dehiscence and as the wikipedia article states it can have a number of causes. In addition infection can be a cause. All surgeons see this from time to time and should be able to deal with it.
posted by TedW at 7:59 AM on September 8, 2009

i am 100% sure that i do not have scurvy, but as for other things, i am not so sure about.

the surgeon today has me using some sort of wet to dry bandage system with saline in the hopes of not going back into surgery to stitch it up. in the mean time, i am going to call for a second opinion as you have all made excellent points. i feel similarly that this is sort of an unacceptable situation, but wasn't sure if it was just my frustration that made me feel that way.

thank you!
posted by itsacover at 11:26 AM on September 8, 2009

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