What Happens After Port Surgery?

by Emily Levy
Emily Levy shows her port catheter at the beach, after having several PICC Lines

In the second part of our Port series, I am breaking down a little bit of what happens post-port surgery.

A critical part of having a port is caring for the incision site after placement. My experience with getting a port implanted was far more painful than getting a PICC, primarily due to the larger incision and managing surgical glue and stitches. Additionally, an interventional radiologist (IR) doctor often does the surgery. In contrast, a PICC (or midline) can be placed at the bedside by a skilled clinician certified in PICC placement. 

Incision Site Care:

Important things to know about caring for your incision site:

  • In most cases, the site is closed with absorbable stitches under the skin that do not need to be removed. 
  • Small adhesive strips may be used to help keep the skin closed. Sometimes, no adhesive strips are used; instead, a special kind of surgical glue is used to keep the skin closed.
  • Make sure not to remove the adhesive strips used on the incision site. In most instances, they will fall off on their own.

My dressing was changed 24 hours after the procedure and then again a week later. Expect 7-10 days for the incision to heal. There will be a scar from the incision. I view my scar as a source of pride for my determination to improve my health.

Post-Surgery Care: 

Emily Levy of Mighty Well post surgery with a port catheter

The hospital may advise that the incision site may be sore for 1-2 days. Nevertheless, I noticed that my incision site was sore for up to two weeks following my surgery. Further, to help with the pain, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter acetaminophen for the pain and follow the directions on the bottle.

A Few Things to Make Life Easier: 

  • I ensured I had easy on-and-off clothing options, like the Cocoon Cardigan. It was painful for me to put on clothing that went over my head during the healing process.
  • To shower, I recommend handheld or sponge bathing because it is critical you do not get the site wet. 
  • If your port is placed in your arm, I recommend our Waterproof Shower Protector with full hand coverage.
  • Other options include using a waterproof dressing on the incision site for at least a week. 

It is essential to remember to never submerge the site under the water until the incision has fully healed. The transparent plastic waterproof dressing placed over the incision after the procedure should remain in place for seven days unless it becomes wet or dirty, in which case, it should be replaced as needed. 

Have any other products that made your life a little easier with a port? Leave a comment below, or email us directly here. 

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