After Biopsy

In order to assist you in your recovery, this pamphlet has been given to you to so you may have a better understanding of the instructions you are to follow after your surgery. Adhering to these guidelines will reduced the likelihood of post-surgical problems and will speed your healing.

THINGS TO EXPECT AFTER SURGERY:

Generally, patients tolerate this procedure with minimal problems. The following occurrences would be normal findings following any oral surgery:

  • SWELLING: Swelling varies significantly with the extent of the surgery. It will reach its maximum at 36–48 hours after surgery and will diminish over the following 3–4 days. Mild bruising of the overlying skin may accompany this.
  • DISCOMFORT: The most discomfort you will experience is usually immediately after the local anesthesia wears off. Take your pain medication before the anesthesia is completely gone.
  • BLEEDING: Some intermittent bleeding or “oozing” of blood from the surgical site for the first 12–24 hours is normal. A small amount of blood mixed with saliva often makes the bleeding look much worse than it is. For several days after surgery you may occasionally noticed blood-tinged saliva especially after eating or brushing your teeth.
  •  SUTURES: If stitches were used for your surgery, they are the dissolving type unless you were told otherwise. They may begin coming loose and falling out within a day or two and are usually gone by 7 days. They will fall away as the part under the skin dissolves.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS:

Proper care of your mouth following a biopsy is essential for good healing. While the actual length of time and amount of difficulty associated with recovery varies, good post-surgical oral care by you is very important to minimize complications and speed your recovery.

 

  • BLEEDING: Keeping your head elevated the first 24 hours will reduce the amount of bleeding. If bleeding is more than slight, constant biting pressure with a gauze pad will usually stop it. Place dampened gauze pads over the bleeding area and hold firm pressure for 30 minutes intervals as needed.
  • EATING: You may drink cool liquids as soon as you get home. Be very careful chewing food or drinking hot liquids until the numbness is gone, as it is easy to bite or burn yourself. There are no specific restrictions on what can be eaten, but foods that require minimal chewing (eggs, Jello, cottage cheese, soup, etc) will be much more comfortable for the first couple of days. As the swelling and discomfort subsides, return to a regular diet as tolerated. Maintaining adequate nutrition during the healing period is very important.
  • MOUTH RINSING/BRUSHING: You may start gently rinsing your mouth with warm salt water rinses 24 hours after surgery. Use a salt water solution consisting of 1/8 teaspoon per full glass of warm water. Do not swish vigorously. Continue this 4-6 times a day for a week after surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth the day of surgery, but be gentle in the surgical areas. Good oral hygiene is essential to the healing process.
  • SWELLING: Swelling is often greater on the second day than on the first, and usually begins subsiding by the fifth day after surgery. You may benefit by using ice packs to minimize swelling. Ice only helps if used in the first 12 hours after surgery so the sooner you apply it, the better. Apply an ice pack to the area (rotating 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) within the first 12 hours after surgery. Using ice on swelling present after 12 hours will be of minimum benefit.
  • DISCOMFORT: We anticipate you will have some discomfort after surgery. The prescribed pain medication should be started before the numbness wears off completely and then taken as directed. Take pain medication with pop, juice, or food to help avoid nausea. CAUTION: Your pain medication may cause drowsiness. Avoid driving or operating dangerous machinery while taking narcotic pain medication.
  • ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed to treat or prevent infection. Follow the instructions on the bottle and completely finish the medication. For females taking oral contraceptives, antibiotics can interfere and make them ineffective for the remainder of that cycle. A secondary method of birth control is recommended during this time.
  • STRETCHING EXERCISES: Jaw stiffness after a biopsy can be more rapidly resolved by application of heat and stretching the mouth open. Beginning on the second day after surgery, apply heat for 15–20 minutes, then stretch the jaw open for a few minutes. Repeat this 3-4 times per day. This will reduce the stiffness in your jaw and expedite the resolution of swelling in the area. DO NOT apply heat for the first 48 hours after surgery.

THINGS TO AVOID AFTER SURGERY:

  • DO NOT use straws or spit forcefully for the first 24 hours after surgery.
  • DO NOT rinse vigorously for 24 hours after surgery.
  • DO NOT smoke for the first 24 hours after surgery.
  • DO NOT mix alcohol and pain medication.
  • DO NOT hesitate to call our office if you have any questions or if you feel like you are having any problems.

 

EMERGENCY CARE

Please contact the office any time for the following problems:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding or pain
  • Elevated temperature (>100.5 F)
  • Swelling that begins or increases several days after surgery
  • Inability to open mouth persisting beyond 5 days
  • Persistent irritation at the IV site

Our doctors are always available after-hours for advice or emergency care. Please call our office at 503-924-2323. If you have an emergency and cannot contact the office, call or go to the emergency room at:

St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center
9205 SW Barnes Road
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 216-2361

 

If you feel you are having a life-threatening emergency, call 911 for assistance.