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Surgical Wounds: 5 Signs Of Improper Healing

Surgery is a fairly common occurrence nowadays, and one that we all go through at some point in our lives.

However, the commonplace nature of surgery doesn’t mean there aren’t still complications – especially in the delicate healing process once the surgery has been completed. 

This is why knowing the signs of problems before they present themselves can make all the difference when it comes to healing right, and ensuring long term bodily health.

But what exactly are the top signs of improper healing? 

What Are The Stages Of Healing? 

When wounds heal properly, they generally go through four distinct stages. 

These stages consist of: 

  • The Hemostasis Stage – the 1st short stage focused on stopping bleeding.
  • The Inflammatory Stage – the 2nd stage focused on delivering nutrients to the wound site. This usually lasts for two days. 
  • The Proliferation Stage – the 3rd stage focused on filling the gaping wound with collagen to create new tissue. 
  • The Remodeling Stage  – the 4th and final stage, focused on smoothing the collagen into uniform scar tissue that will slowly heal over a period of years. 

The Top 5 Signs Of Improper Healing

When a surgical wound is not healing correctly, there are a few signs that might present themselves. 

1. Bad Smelling Wound

The main sign of an infection – or even that something isn’t healing quite right – is a wound that smells bad. 

With regards to wounds, a bad smell is usually the sign of dead tissue, or the sign of an infection spreading. 

2. Thick Discharge

Most wounds will give off some kind of discharge – as it is a natural part of healing – but if this discharge seems thick and an unusual texture, then it could be a sign that your wound is not healing properly. 

This discharge will be yellow, green, or white – and while common initially in the healing process, is a sign that something is wrong if it reoccurs later on. 

3. Prolonged Wound Swelling

The initial swelling of any wound has usually subsided within the first few days of an injury.

However, if this persists beyond the first week of the injury, or if it once again becomes swollen at a later stage, then it could be a sign of an infection within the wound – one that is keeping it in the inflammation stage akin to fresh wounds. 

4. Fever

We experience many things when we get a wound – and even more when the wound starts to heal – however a fever should not be one of them. 

This is an indication of a viral or bacterial infection, and if you have a fever then you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Fevers that are over 100 degrees fahrenheit, and which last for more than four hours, could be a sign of further complications, and as such, medical attention is encouraged. 

5. Long Lasting Pain

While some degree of pain is expected in the initial stages of an injury, pain that lasts long is not supposed to happen. 

Pain is supposed to get slowly better over time, as the wound itself naturally heals and the body begins to heal itself once more. If the pain persists – be it at the same degree, or slightly less – then it could be a sign that the wound is not healing properly, and that something else could be afoot. 

How To Ensure Proper Healing? 

Signs Of Improper Healing

To ensure your wound heals properly and safely, you need to be mindful of several things.


The most important thing is keeping a wound clean. This is the best way to ensure proper healing, and the avoidance of bacteria and infections. 


Applying clean, appropriate dressings – and changing them regularly – is also an important part of ensuring proper healing of wounds.

This means ensuring implements you use are sterile, that bandages are fresh, and that the area is clean before you dress it. 


You could also practice better nutrition, avoiding bad foods like alcohol/tobacco, avoiding bumps or abrasions to the area, and ensuring you have plenty of restful sleep. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about surgical wounds, and the top five signs to look out for if your wound is not healing right. 

Surgery is a common thing nowadays, and many of us will experience it in some form throughout our lives.

However, this doesn’t mean that problems don’t occur – particularly when it comes to post-surgery healing – which is why it really pays to recognize the signs as they present themselves. 

So if you want to know whether your surgery wound is healing properly or not, then be sure to check out this guide!