Showering after Plastic Surgery: A Guide for Patients

Showering too soon after cosmetic surgery means an increased risk of post-op complications, such as infection, slow recovery times, and bleeding. The biggest risk involves incision sites opening up because of the stream from the showerhead. The water can loosen sutures and cause wounds to worsen, which can lead to excessive scarring and other problems.

We know patients need to keep clean after surgery. With that in mind, the team at our Philadelphia, PA plastic surgery center goes over some of the basics regarding showers after surgery, and offers simple, sensible hygiene tips for patients during the healing process.

Traditional Baths after Surgery Are a Bad Idea Too

You might think traditional baths would be gentler and better than a shower but soaking in water after surgery can be dangerous. The incision sites are more prone to infection and sitting in water simply increases the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria.

Sponge Baths after Surgery Are Most Ideal

To stay clean after plastic surgery, patients will initially rely on sponge baths. This helps avoid getting the incisions themselves wet and reducing exposure of these wounds to water.

When taking a sponge bath, patients should use lukewarm water to help avoid increased inflammation. The incision areas should not be touched or cleaned directly as this could increase the risk of infection. Avoid exposing these parts of your body to water.

What about Washing My Hair?

If you have undergone facial plastic surgery, you will want to avoid shampooing your hair until your surgeon advises otherwise. Tugging at the skin of the face while washing your hair could impact the healing process and have a negative effect on the final outcomes of the surgery.

When Can I Shower after Surgery?

Most patients will be able to take showers again a week after their surgery. This will vary from patient to patient, however, so be sure to follow the instructions provided by your plastic surgeon. If you have drainage tubes in place, you may be asked to avoid showering until the drainage tubes have been removed.

As for baths, you may want to wait two to three weeks. Again, be sure to follow your surgeon’s post-op instructions.

Tips on Showering after Surgery

When you return to taking showers, be sure to follow these tips to avoid complications and other problems.

  • Keep the Shower Quick - The first showers you take after surgery should be fast, just enough to get clean. Don’t dally too long, as the warmth and mist can cause you to feel faint.
  • Keep Incisions and Sutures Dry - It’s a good idea to cover up sutures or incision sites while showering to keep these parts of the body dry. You may even want to turn away from the stream of water to help avoid infection.
  • Use Antibacterial Soap - The antibacterial soap you used to scrub and clean before surgery should be used after surgery as well.
  • Avoid Hot Water - Hot water can lead to inflammation even a week after surgery. Shower with lukewarm or cool water instead to be safe.
  • Adjust the Stream of the Showerhead - The stream of the showerhead can still open up incision sites and affect sutures a week after surgery. If you have an adjustable showerhead, make sure you pick a gentle setting.
  • Gently Pat Yourself Dry - After showering, gently pat your body dry with a towel Avoid rubbing to vigorously, as this can lead to incisions being reopened.

Contact Jefferson Plastic Surgery

To learn more about recovering from a surgical procedure and preventing complications, be sure to contact the team at Jefferson Plastic Surgery. We look forward to your visit and discussing these matters in greater detail during a consultation.

Questions? Email us today.

To make or reschedule an appointment please complete the form below or call:  (215) 625-6630.

CALL US TODAY: (215)625-6630


Jefferson Plastic Surgery is located on the corner of 9th and Walnut streets in Center City, Philadelphia on the 15th floor of the Wills Eye Hospital Building.

Jefferson Plastic Surgery
840 Walnut Street - 15th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
Phone: (215) 625-6630
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