Allowing to heal ‘secondarily’

picture of male skin surgeon

Allowing to heal 'secondarily'

There are a number of ways to fix a wound, but sometimes the best option is to do no surgery at all……

What is secondary healing?

Letting a wound heal on its own after skin surgery is known by medics as ‘letting it heal by secondary intention healing’.

This is, as it sounds, where a wound is not stitched or reconstructed, and instead is allowed to heal on its own. This may sound a little strange at first, but sometimes can be the best option.

How is a wound dressed when left to heal?

Usually, the wound would be dressed after skin growth removal with a non-adherent dressing. Antibiotic ointment may also be used, especially when around the eyes. The non-stick dressing is used as otherwise the healing wound could stick to the dressing, which would then be sore and may bleed when the dressing is changed.

Which wounds might be left to heal on their own?

There are a number of wounds that might be suitable for being left to heal after skin surgery. These include small wounds from skin growth surgery on the nose, wounds near the eye, or wounds on the forehead. Sometimes, more complex wounds, such as eyelid wounds, might be able to be left to heal, but this usually needs a very experienced surgeon to make this decision.

How long does a wound take to heal?

This depends on a number of factors, including size of wound, location of wound, your age, other issues such as medications, and diet. Often, when a wound is left to heal after skin growth removal, it will seem to not do much at all for the first 1-2 weeks. A ‘scab’ may form, but no obvious shrinkage in wound may be seen. At around 3-4 weeks the wound usually starts to heal in. The scab will peel away, with a healed area underneath. Occasionally it can take longer, but most wounds will be healed by around 5-6 weeks.

What does the scar look like when left to heal?

Again, this depends on the size and location of the wound, but the scarring can sometimes be better than if the wound was reconstructed (stitched). Occasionally, the scar can leave a noticeable ‘dent’ or may be too tight (known as contracture) and so further surgery might be needed to improve this.

This information is for general information only. If you have any concerns about your health or are considering any treatments, you should seek advice from a healthcare specialist

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