What is debridement? Debridement is the removal of dead or infected skin tissue to help a wound heal. Debridement can also be performed to remove foreign material from the tissue.
A debridement may be necessary when a wound is not getting better. Usually, this occurs because the wound is trapped in the first stages of healing. Once the necrotic tissue is removed, the wound can begin the healing process once again.
Patients may choose to undergo a wound debridement to help healthy tissue grow, to minimize scarring, or to reduce complications of infection.
Debridement is typically used for old or chronic wounds that are infected and getting worse. Debridement may also be necessary if you’re at risk for developing problems from wound infections, such as when a person has diabetes (i.e., risk of developing gangrene).
All surgeries, whether they be big or small, carry risks. For wound debridement, these typically include:
Risks of Surgery
You may need to take antibiotics before surgery. Routine blood work is usually not needed but may be ordered prior to surgery based on the patient's age and the presence of any existing medical problems.
Wound debridement is a minor kind of surgery, and is done on an outpatient basis (you will be able to go home after the surgery is completed). Before your surgery, a nurse or doctor will plan the site, clean the affected area, and consult with you for any questions you may have. Then, they will numb the wound using a local anesthetic so that you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.
The procedure itself can last anywhere between a few minutes to an hour depending on the complexity of the wound. Typically, your doctor will give you a heads up on how long the procedure should last.
If a wound debridement gets to surgery, the procedure performed is either sharp debridement or conservative sharp debridement. With surgical sharp debridement, unhealthy tissue is removed from the wound by cutting it off. In conservative sharp debridement, scalpels, curettes, or scissors are used, but the cutting does not extend to the surrounding healthy tissue, hence the “conservative.” We focus on sharp debridement, which includes cutting healthy tissue around the wound, which is done by a surgeon and requires general anesthesia.
Recovery time for wound debridement will vary, but you should feel back to normal within a few days to weeks depending on whether or not you received stitches. Be sure to keep the area clean and dry to avoid the possibility of infection. Itchiness or soreness is common, however let your doctor know if you experience swelling or excessive pain.
You will need to arrange for a ride home the day of your surgery and we recommend someone stay with you for the first 24 hours at home. When you leave the facility after surgery, we will want you to go home and rest. Avoid making any other plans on the day of your surgery. Starting the following day, you can increase your activity as you feel up to it.
You will likely be given a prescription for pain medication following your surgery. The recovery nurse will discuss a pain control plan following surgery specific to you and your needs including activities like ice applied over incisions and a medication regimen. Oftentimes we will recommend taking Tylenol and Advil (same as Motrin, Ibuprofen) or Aleve in addition to the narcotic pain medication.
Did you know we have a support group?
Your questions and concerns have most likely been asked and answered in our support group. Moderated by our dietitian's, nurses, and staff. We provide you with reliable patient education and resources to help you throughout this life-changing process.