Surgical Scar and Swimming

toofast

Well-known member
May 9, 2013
993
North East Ohio
So I hope this is the right place for this, and I am NOT looking for Medical advice per say, just other folks experience.

I had "back surgery" last week - it was invasive and I have a 3 inch "cut/scar" on my back. It was internally "stitched" and "externally super glued". It is healing nicely and now has a nice "scab" over it.

The Doctors Orders say I can take a bath/shower after 48 hours.

The "discharge nurse" told my Wife I should stay out a swimming pool for 4-6 weeks. (or the rest of the summer essentially)

My Doctor "won't comment" on the matter as I think he doesn't want to contradict what the discharge nurse said, etc.

But does anybody have any real world experience with this ? Any reason I can't go swimming in my perfectly balanced, no algae, no junk pool ? Heck it is cleaner water than my bath/shower water.

Any insight is appreciated!
 

clambert1273

Gold Supporter
Jun 13, 2013
720
Gilbert, AZ
I had back surgery (fusion L5-S1) in 2002. If it is using the glue to hold it together, then no you cannot "keep it wet". In other words, a shower is fine but mine wouldn't even let me take a bath much less get in a pool. Even in the shower I couldn't stand up and had to use a stool to sit on. After the "glue" started to dissolve is when I was allowed to "sit" in water.
 

toofast

Well-known member
May 9, 2013
993
North East Ohio
clambert1273 said:
I had back surgery (fusion L5-S1) in 2002. If it is using the glue to hold it together, then no you cannot "keep it wet". In other words, a shower is fine but mine wouldn't even let me take a bath much less get in a pool. Even in the shower I couldn't stand up and had to use a stool to sit on. After the "glue" started to dissolve is when I was allowed to "sit" in water.

He used internal stiches/staples plus GLUE - so if that is the case, I guess I gotta keep it dry.

The stuff above looks like it might keep it dry, although I wonder if the risk of leakage is worth it.

HOW LONG did you have to stay out of the POOL ?
 

tltmom

Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Aug 5, 2011
200
Urbana, IL
nexcare Tegaderm transparent film is a great product for this application. Usually available at major drugstores.
It is a waterproof, saran-wrap like material that is adesive on one side. We have used it with great success following my husband's neck surgery and my son's skin surgery.
One caveat is that we did not use it for swimming, just for showering, but it worked perfectly.
 

clambert1273

Gold Supporter
Jun 13, 2013
720
Gilbert, AZ
It took about 4 weeks for it to dissolve on me but my scar was about 5 inches (other repair). That was my 4th surgery so not sure if they were just being stupid with me but I was NOT willing to risk it and go through another one... worst pain I dealt with was the recovery. I couldn't hardly walk for almost 8 weeks so I certainly wasn't in the mood for a pool lol now after I began to heal up (around 16 weeks) then I started going to the pool to build the muscle back up...
 

MassNerd

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2013
174
Central Massachusetts
Keep it dry until it heals and then after that if you want to minimize scarring then you really have to keep it out of the sun for 1 year. Even sun block won't provide 100% protection against permanent scarring. However, with a 3" incision, you are probably expecting to keep some level of scar...
 

toofast

Well-known member
May 9, 2013
993
North East Ohio
MassNerd said:
Keep it dry until it heals and then after that if you want to minimize scarring then you really have to keep it out of the sun for 1 year. Even sun block won't provide 100% protection against permanent scarring. However, with a 3" incision, you are probably expecting to keep some level of scar...
Ok, so the million dollar question is what does heal mean ? I think everybody is different....is it when the "scab" falls of you think ?

As for keeping out of the sun, yes I know...I will do my best...but there will be a scar I think no matter what.
 

clambert1273

Gold Supporter
Jun 13, 2013
720
Gilbert, AZ
You will know "healed"... are you required to wear back brace when walking? What was the procedure you had done? I was required to be in a brace at all time when I was not sitting for 8 weeks...

For me the definition of healed is 1. No staples or glue holding it (or sutures), 2. Pain is minimized 3. Mobility is gained
 

toofast

Well-known member
May 9, 2013
993
North East Ohio
clambert1273 said:
You will know "healed"... are you required to wear back brace when walking? What was the procedure you had done? I was required to be in a brace at all time when I was not sitting for 8 weeks...

For me the definition of healed is 1. No staples or glue holding it (or sutures), 2. Pain is minimized 3. Mobility is gained

Gotcha...yeah, no back brace....my procedure was mostly "microscopic" it was actually a bit complicated, started of as "normal" Discectomy (sp), but they actually found LARGE CHUNKS of disc material bound in my nerve bundles and they had to "dissect" that out. Then they finally got around to fixing the disc.

I still have some residual "pain", but I am fairly mobile (surprisingly enough)...because most of my pain was NERVE related. So I guess I simply need to wait till my scar is not held by staples/glue.

Thanks so much for all the responses....I really thinks this is the best forum on the net!
 

Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
I think the problem is it is hard to predict healing time for incisions, I had major surgery about 2 years ago, and ended up with an 11 inch long scar. Most of the incision healed fairly well within the first 2 weeks, however the last inch or so continued to drain even after the staples were removed, and had to be packed with gauze twice per day until it healed on its own which took another 2-3 weeks and has left a finger tip sized pock mark which is about 1/2 inch deep.
 

toofast

Well-known member
May 9, 2013
993
North East Ohio
Yep I agree...if I have a solid scab is that healed ? If I have no drainage is that healed ?

So confused...I guess I will have to wait till my Post Operative Follow up and see if I can get the docs to give me a better answer. Swimming with my kid is important, but not worth risking an infection, etc.

But then again if they told me I can take a bath, what the heck is the difference ? No need to answer that question...as I know there is really no answer :)
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
23,932
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
A piece of saran wrap to keep it from sticking to the scar and then a couple stripes of duct tape!

'course it will hurt like **** when you peel that tape off....


Personally, I'd content myself with sitting on the edge dangling my feet. Just remember - no glass poolside!
 

toofast

Well-known member
May 9, 2013
993
North East Ohio
Mmm, duck tape and saran wrap....I can see it now :)

So Doctor, let me explain how this started...

I think I will wait a week or so, and see how the scab is doing...although I am tempted to jump in for 5 minutes. But I won't.
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
12,720
Houston, Texas
The skin is healed when it the wound is closed completely with no scabs remaining. How long that takes is different for everyone, but if you can keep normal body motion from pulling on the wound it will heal a little quicker. I hope you have a speedy recovery!