To Shave or Not to Shave Before Surgery

Depending on the area being treated, patients may believe they are helping their surgeon by shaving any hair that exists there. On the surface, this is an excellent idea as he would think hair could be a contaminating factor, leading to the possibility of infections or other complications. The medical community thought that shaving the surgical area was appropriate until, relatively recently, we began to understand that shaving the surgical site may be counterproductive. To clarify, you must read your pre-surgical instructions, which may include trimming your hair, but we rarely suggest that a close shave with a razor be performed before surgery. Doing so increases the chances of folliculitis or infection of the hair follicles, which can cause a superficial but ultimately problematic infection.

Instead, we will often shave the area in the pre-op area or operating room before performing the procedure. If the patient has a significant amount of hair in the area, we may ask them to use clippers to trim it, but not down to the skin.

Important Pre-surgical Considerations

Of course, we will guide you on what to do before your surgery. Among the most essential instructions is disinfecting the area in preparation for surgery. Once again, these instructions will vary depending on the procedure. However, it’s vital that the washing routine you follow before surgery closely lines up with your instructions.

Identifying an Infection

While surgical techniques and technology have significantly reduced complications like infection, they still represent a significant concern after surgery. After all, we are cutting the skin, breaking the primary barrier to bacteria. As such, it’s essential to know the signs of infections. This can include:

  • Redness and significant pain at the incision site
  • A persistent fever
  • Skin that is hot to the touch
  • A foul odor emanating from the incision site
  • Pain that seems to be worsening or not improving over time
  • Significant redness and red streaks coming from the incision
  • Yellow pus, oozing from the incision, does not seem to dissipate

If you experience any signs of infection, you must contact your surgeon immediately. And if you believe you’re having an emergency, do not delay dialing 911 or getting to your nearest emergency room.