What Happens if a Wound Reopens

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 26, 2017
What Happens if a Wound Reopens

Wounds are painful and unsightly, and they take several days to heal. But after healing or after having a surgical incision, the wound may seem to be healed, but suddenly it starts reopening. This can be a traumatic situation, both physically and mentally. Reopening of a wound is medically termed as wound dehiscence. Typically, closures or sutures around a wound should stay intact, allowing new tissue to form and heal. But when a wound reopens, its edges separate instead of healing. This oneHOWTO article is going to talk about what happens if a wound reopens.

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Symptoms of wound dehiscence

Before we begin explaining what happens if a wound reopens, we'd like to make sure this is your case. Take a look at the symptoms of a wound reopening, which are easy to identify. Some of them include:

  • Separated edges around the wound
  • Broken sutures
  • Bleeding from the wound
  • Pain, swelling and inflammation on the site
  • Pus from an infected wound. Click here to know about the Signs That a Wound Is Infected
  • Your wound will smell bad
  • Fever

Causes of wound dehiscence

There can be several reasons why your wound reopened, which is why you should always go to your doctor to get adequate treatment depending on the possible reasons why it reopened:

  • The stitches were too loose
  • Inappropriate stitches were used
  • Wrong suture material was used
  • Wrong needle was used
  • The wound was too tense or tight
  • Sutures were done on an infected wound before letting it heal first
  • The sutures were placed too close to the edge of the wound
  • Wrong technique of suture was used
  • Sutures were taken out too early
  • Some foreign object was left inside the wound
  • A blood clot was formed, which is forcing the wound to break apart
  • Arterial bleeding
What Happens if a Wound Reopens - Causes of wound dehiscence

Who are at more risk of wound dehiscence?

Almost every wound has a risk of reopening within first 2 weeks of the surgery. But there can be certain factors that may increase your chances of having a wound dehiscence:

  • The current health condition of the patient. Patients with weak immunity, chronic illness or malnutrition have higher risk of wound dehiscence
  • If you have a kidney, heart or liver disease
  • If you have diabetes
  • If you are over-weight or under-weight
  • If you use medicines like immunotherapy drugs or steroids
  • Certain lifestyle habits may also increase chances of reopening in your wound. If you smoke, take drugs or drink alcohol, you are more likely to have your wound reopened
  • Heavy weight lifting, coughing, vomiting, constipation and exercising after the surgery can put immense pressure on your wound, causing it to reopen

Diagnosis and treatment of a wound that reopened

Your physician will identify wound dehiscence only after looking at it. But he may want to have an ultrasound, CT or X-ray to confirm it and check other problems occurring deep in your wound. Understand that a reopened wound is always a medical emergency, and it is always treated as a new wound. Some treatment procedures to heal a reopened wound include:

  • Medicines are used to treat infection, reduce pain, and also help the wound to heal quickly
  • Daily cleaning, examining and bandaging of your wound will be done
  • Your physician may use a wound vacuum to remove any infection or fluid from your wound
  • He can use binders or splints to reduce stress in your wound, so that it can remain together
  • In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove any infected tissue from the area. The wound will be closed again using mesh, stitches or skin grafts
What Happens if a Wound Reopens - Diagnosis and treatment of a wound that reopened

How to prevent wound dehiscence

Here are a few steps that you can take to prevent wound reopening altogether:

  • Follow your doctor’s post-operative precautions and instructions
  • Take all prescribed medicines for the entire period of prescription, even if the wound looks healed completely
  • Take care of your wound with proper hygiene and wound care, including cleaning and dressing
  • Follow a healthy diet and keep your body hydrated to help your wound heal faster and prevent constipation
  • Avoid strain on your wound. Stay away from cough, vomit, diarrhea, etc. Get them treated as soon as you see the first signs
  • Use a pillow to brave your wound area. This will relieve stress on the wound while doing heavy activities
  • Avoid scratching if you have an itchy wound

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Happens if a Wound Reopens, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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