Belly Button Pain 4 weeks after lap

Hi

Had lap on 5/6/14 and had trouble with my wounds healing/stitches dissolving. Was prescribed antibiotics for belly button infection last tuesday but it is still really sore with a hard lump behind it. I'm due to go on holiday on Friday and am really worried it is going to get worse while I am there. The nurse at my GP surgery said to try and pull/snip out any stitches that I can see and I have tried but it's really hard and painful. Anyone any advice please?

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  • The stitches take a lot longer to dissolve - around two months after my op I still had some stitches there. I'd had a laparotomy (big hole) and loads of stitches. They were all the dissolvable sort, and did eventually disappear. You should not and do not have to pull them out. If they are catching on clothes then carefully and hygienically snip them back to skin level. Nail clippers are good for this.

    Or use micropore tape over the top to stop them catching on clothing. It is still very early days in the healing process and if you have already had an infection in any one of the wounds or from the surgical sites inside then that knocks back your recovery by a few weeks.

    The lump if it is anywhere from a pea size to a walnut is probable surgical super glue used inside to stick your hole together, it too will dissolve in a long time. This is usually biggest at the belly button hole (because it is the biggest hole to fill, and I certainly could feel mine under the skin for a long time after but it too did go.

    Occasionally and rarely a wound site can develop a cyst but this would be flexible, whereas the superglue plugs are very much stuck in your skin, very solid and cannot budge, and you can press around them and feel them very easily.

    These plugs are part and parcel of a laparoscopy and must be left alone.

    Don't try and squeeze them to the surface like a boil or zit. They can pop out if your wound is not yet fully healed and that exposes you to a high risk of infection.

    On my 1st lap, i was meddling with the lump and the stitch or two holding the glue plug in place and out it popped. And in no time it was infected and it took 2 months of repeated antibiotic treatements to clear up the infection. That was my belly button hole, which being the biggest is also the most common site for post op infections, as so many of us have had our wound infections there.

    Aside from the antibiotics, I cannot over stress the importance of not meddling with the stitches. Trim them by all means, but let them do their job, and wound care with regular antiseptic surface cleaning and letting them air dry or with a light dressing or plaster on top if there has been an infection.

    It's very tempting to fiddle about, but it is the worst thing to do because that is how infections get in, and they can be a right devil of a nuisance to get rid of once they have taken hold.

    Take over the counter pain killers to calm the pain side of things. Depending on what country you are visiting, take enough pain killers with you.

    If you are heading to the middle east for example, Codeine based pain killers are not permitted, but regular paracetamol is fine. If you are travelling within the EU then there shouldn't be any restrictions of that sort. Remember to take your EHIC card with you in case you need to see a doctor locally, and take a note of the name of the antibiotics you have already tried but that the bug is possible resistant to.

    On the whole, if you are in a warmer climate, fresh air is the best cure, don't let the belly button get too sweaty as sweat is loved by bacteria, so keep tummy clean and dry and take antiseptic wipes or sprays or gel with you and re-apply regularly.

    If you think there is still an infection, try and see your GP before you go away and get a new batch of anti-biotics to take with you.

    Avoid sun creams and sun exposure to fresh wound sites. They are newly healing skin cells and you should avoid any temptation to sub bathe and burn that fragile tissue. Keep your tummy sheltered from the sun with a T-shirt, towel or sarong wrapped round your middle if you are tempted to lie back, relax and catch some rays.

    Hope you have a fab holiday. And be gentle with your tummy, it's been through a rough time and it needs TLC and as little poking and prodding and fiddling about as possible.

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