Why do I have swelling after an operation?

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Cole Hawkins

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Why do I have swelling after an operation?
« on: 26/06/2009 09:22:50 »
Cole Hawkins asked the Naked Scientists:

I had four bones fused in my foot in December. It has healed very well. I want to ask about the swelling that has accompanied my recovery, my surgeon says things are looking very good. There are still days when the swelling is apparent. Is this because my body is sending more blood to the surgery site or are the capillaries and lymphatic system under performing?

Cole Hawkins
Mono Lake, California

What do you think?


Offline carreerslut

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Why do I have swelling after an operation?
« Reply #1 on: 28/06/2009 11:54:38 »
Swelling after trauma is entirely normal and a good thing even.  The body needs to protect the area in fluid and like you said send more help to the area to aid recovery.  Without inflammation there is no healing.  Once the site of the wound is better the excess fluid will either be reabsorbed into your body or if there is open skin may leak out as clear or even slightly bloodied fluid.
All you can do is keep the area clean, take anti-inflammatories if the pain is too bad, but be aware this is ironically slowing the healing up, if making you more comfortable.  But do not worry, anti-inflammatories or not your body will continue doing what it needs to do to protect itself.
  You know you have had surgery, all your body knows is has been attacked by a sharp object with deep tissue damage.  The response is a primitive one designed to enable us to survive, the worst thing would be for a stab wound to be left open to more injury.  The body is ensuring this does not happen, so swells up around it like some self-made bandage.
Your doctor is not looking for swelling as a problem, it is a good sign.  It is only if the swelling is very red and tender and you are becoming generally unwell they will worry that infection has set in.  Sounds like it hasn't  Hope you feel better soon.