How Strong Is My Skin After Surgery?
In a recent blog post “What Activities Can I Do With Sutures And Stitches In The Skin” Dr. Adam Mamelak advised what types of activities patients should and shouldn’t do after having a surgical procedure on their skin.
When the skin is cut and sutured closed, such as during a skin cancer surgery, it will never be as strong as it was prior to surgery, or compared to skin that has not undergone a surgical procedure. “It actually takes the skin about 6 moths to heal completely and regain its maximum strength after surgery,” says Dr. Mamelak. “At this time, the skin will only possess 80% of its original tensile strength.” This is one of the reasons Dr. Mamelak performs layered skin closures, and places deep absorbing sutures under the skin to help keep a wound closed until it reaches complete healing.
“It can be a problem,” says Dr. Mamelak. “My Mohs surgery patients tend to be quite active. They are eager to resume their regular activities, get back to the golf course, play tennis, work out in the gym. Depending on how intense they do these things, they sometimes don’t understand why I tell them to take it easy.”
At 2 weeks, the time when many patient come back to have their stitches removed, the skin has only reached 3-5% of its original tensile strength. The skin does however rapidly improve after this time. At 3 weeks, it is 20% of its original strength and by 1 month it reaches 50% of its strength.
Vigorous activity early after surgery when the skin has still not obtained sufficient strength can contribute to spreading scars and less than desirable cosmetic outcomes.
Dr. Mamelak provides all his patients with detailed post operative care instructions on how exactly to take care of their surgical wounds to get the absolute best results. He always addresses specific questions and concerns about activity when planning and scheduling a procedure on the skin.