Styptic Pencil on a Small Opening on my Tummy Tuck Incision?

I am 7 weeks post-op and have an occasional small spot appear and bleed a little on my tummy tuck incision. This has happened 3 times now and each time it is not larger than the head of a pencil eraser. Is there any harm in using a styptic pencil on the small spot to help it clot and heal more quickly? I know everyone will say ask my PS however I wanted the opinion of those on this site please.

Doctor Answers 4

These are tiny stitch abscesses; styptic pencil not advised.

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At this point in your recovery, what you are describing are almost certainly tiny suture abscesses from dissolving sutures. Partially-dissolved stitches may have tiny protruding "tails" that can poke through the skin in a few spots (that's why this doesn't occur in every stich location), or perhaps become bacterially-contaminated from hair follicles or sweat glands in the skin through which the suture was passed. This can happen with any incision suture line in virtually any site on the human body.

Warm, wet, and the presence of bacteria = superficial infection which causes the pencil eraser-sized inflammatory reaction and droplet of blood or pus. Once drained (the drop of blood mixed with some bacteria), they immediately start to heal. These spots usually bleed minimally, and a styptic pencil (anhydrous aluminum sulphate or potassium alum, usually used to stanch bleeding such as from a razor cut) is an unnecessary chemical irritant to these self-limiting wounds. Until healed, they may indeed drain a bit and require a gauze dressing (or cause spots on your clothing), but ongoing bleeding is not the rule, nor would a styptic pencil be needed.

Instead, gently wash each spot as it forms with warm soapy water (do not scrub a healing wound vigorously), and apply a tiny dab of bacitracin or polysporin ointment and a small bandage or gauze. These will heal over a few days unless a deeper infection is present or deeper sutures become contaminated. If any of these areas starts to become larger or drain more than a droplet of fluid, you should see your surgeon for evaluation about further care and/or antibiotic therapy.

The reason we say see your own plastic surgeon is that when patients decide for themselves how to care for (ANY) problem, and then that self-directed therapy fails, the patient returns to their original surgeon (who should have been consulted in the first place) who will be asked to "fix" the more severe mess. This is neither good for the patient, nor fair to the surgeon, who might have prevented the (larger) problem with his/her own advice, care, or solution rather than mine, any other online consultant, or well-meaning "friend."

If your surgeon is less than approachable, then shame on him/her, but s/he was your choice, so please check with your surgeon! Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Opening on tummy tuck incision

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A small hole in a tummy tuck incision could be as simple as a suture spitting to something more severe.  Best to really see your surgeon to be properly evaluated.

Small opening on tummy tuck incison

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A small opening on a tummy tuck incision that keeps appearing 7 weeks post op should be examined to determine the underlying cause such as an irritated suture.  If that is the case. 2 minutes in the office with your plastic surgeon will solve everything.

Styptic Pencil on a Small Opening on my Tummy Tuck Incision

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Chances are if this keeps recurring that there is a foreign body--usually a suture knot that is the cause, and this will keep coming back until the suture is removed or until it dissolves. 

Thanks for your question, all the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.