Post Op Neck Surgery
Many patients biggest concern following neck surgery is their incision. Immediately following surgery, most patients will have a dressing covering the incision. This should be removed after 24 hours. At this point, some patients will have a strip of white stickers (steri strips) covering their incision. These will slowly peel off over a period of 2 – 3 weeks; however, we usually remove them at your first post operative appointment. It is OK to shower 48 hours after surgery, but you should avoid soaking your incision (bath or swimming) for 2 – 3 weeks, or until cleared by your surgeon. Once the steri strips are removed, keeping your incision clean, moisturizing with either Vaseline or skin care cream, and avoiding sun exposure will maximize your cosmetic outcome. If you did not have steri strips applied you may be asked to apply Vaseline or antibiotic ointment to the incision 2 times a day.
You will typically be given a prescription for pain medication, and you should take it as needed as long as you are experiencing significant discomfort. As the pain lessens, you can switch to Tylenol or extra strength Tylenol. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve and other anti-inflammatory medications should be avoided as they can increase your chances of bleeding. You should limit physical activity for at least 1 to 2 weeks following surgery to allow time for your incision to heal. Driving is absolutely contraindicated while taking pain medication, and until your can turn your head quickly and comfortably to see oncoming traffic.
Most patients are able to tolerate a regular diet following neck surgery, though many patients experience a sore throat which will resolve over 1 – 2 days. Neck swelling, fevers, severe pain or any drainage from your incision can be signs of serious complications, and your surgeon should be alerted immediately.