Why Use Vaseline After Mohs Surgery? Does It Keep the Wound "Soft" and Healing Better?

I have been advised after biopsies and Mohs surgery to use a thin layer of vaseline on the wound, but I have never understood why. Does is protect the wound or does it help the wound heal by keeping the area "soft" and therefore more comfortable for the patient (I mean with less itching or stretching).

Doctor Answers 6

Vaseline is king

Hey Laura, 

This is an old thread, but I have a couple things to add.. 

Through medical studies we've learned that moist things heal faster. Ointment (of any kind keeps the tissue underneath moist)

- we've learned that topical ointments with antibiotics in them don't prevent infections any better than vaseline does. It's more expensive, risks dermatitis reaction or allergic reaction

- In my practice I think of scabs (the dried blood around stitches) as a concrete scaffolding that prevents the ingrowth and cross linking of dermal fingers that is the healing process. So scabs actually prevent healing! They also result in unsightly scars. 

- silicon sheeting has been the only thing to improve scarring- this is because it keeps things underneath it moist- that's all it does!

Hope this helps!

Dr. Robb

Evans Otolaryngologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Moist healing is better

Moist healing is faster than dry healing with a scab. 
Neosporin can be allergenic and during healing patients can react to it if they develop an allergy which occurs in about 10% of patients.
Bacitracin or Polysporin are less allergenic.
Vasaline avoids the allergy risk so your doctor is recommending it to keep the wound mosit.

Keith Denkler, MD
Marin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Vaseline and ointments after surgery

I dont think the ointment has any inherent intrinsic value by itself. It serves to keep the area moist and optimizes the healing process. It also allows the sutures to be removed without trauma after the surgery.

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

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Let it scab is an old wives tale.

All wounds heal better if kept moist and will heal faster and with less scar if kept moist, rather than let a scab form.   Any wound will finally heal, but creating a more optimal environment does make a difference.  We used to tell people to keep the antibiotic ointments on for weeks and weeks but are now finding that lengthy exposure to those ointments tended to result in contact dermatitis to one of the antibiotic ingredients in the ointments.  Simple occlusive ointments such as Vaseline or Aquaphor are the best.  That is all we hand out in this office after a biopsy or any procedure.  

Steven Swengel, MD
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How to Care for Wounds After Biopsies or Surgeries

It's an old wives' tale that you let the air get to a wound and let it scab up to help it heal faster. The truth is that if you keep the wound clean, moist and covered (covered to stay moist) it will heal quicker. A healing wound produces various products in the moist wound bed that help to stimulate wound healing and speed the recovery process. If the wound dries out, those products dry up as well and the wound takes longer to ultimately heal. Check with your doctor, but most dermatologists would recommend: 1. clean the wound with mild soap and water (some areas you might use hydrogen peroxide); 2. liberally apply a bland ointment like Vaseline or Aquaphor or an antibiotic ointment (careful, some people are allergic to neomycin), and 3. apply a non-stick (e.g. Telfa) bandage that is held in place with paper tape. See your doctor for any increasing redness, pus, blisters, increasing pain, fevers, chills sweats or if the wound is not healing. Good luck.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
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Why keep sites moist after removals or surgery

The idea is to keep the area moist. I recommend Vaseline or preferably Polysporin (not Neosporin) after any removal or surgery. You need to keep the area clean with 1/2 peroxide and water, and keep any scabs or crusty areas off the site. The reason is that even though we were taught as youngsters that scabs are healing, actually scabs equate to scars. So keeping the area clean and moist allows new pink skin to form, and keeps scars to a minimum.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
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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.