How to Remove Adhesive Bandages After Surgery

Knee surgery in hospital
Replace adhesive bandages after surgery if they become wet or soiled. (Image: vschlichting/iStock/Getty Images)

After surgery, your surgeon may apply a dressing coated with medical adhesive to support the area and prevent infection. The surgeon will change the bandage within the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure and may instruct you to change it at home every day.

Procedure

Wash your hands and and wear nonsterile gloves. Carefully loosen each corner of the bandage in turn, using your other hand to gently pull the skin away from the bandage. Pull the corners horizontally across the surface of the bandage, rather than lifting them straight up. When all adhesive areas have been released, remove the dressing and discard it into a plastic bag.

After-Care

Check the incision for signs of infection, including redness or draining fluids. Avoid disturbing any staples, stitches or thin strips of tape used to close the wound. Follow your doctor's instructions about cleaning the area and replacing the bandage.

Removing Adhesive Residue

To remove the sticky adhesive residue on your skin, try rubbing with a clean washcloth soaked with a mixture of water and mild soap. Over-the-counter medical adhesive removers may also be helpful. Avoid using alcohol, which can dry the skin and increase the risk of infection.

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