Question: I recently had surgery and I would love to take a bath. When is it safe to take a bath without hurting my incision?
Answer: Plan on waiting at least two weeks after your surgery to take a bath (or swimming!) unless your surgeon has given specific instructions otherwise. How soon after surgery you can take a bath depends upon the type of surgery you had. If you have a cast on your leg, soaking in a bath tub would be a bad idea, as would bathing or swimming if your incision has not healed. The safe answer is this: if you are in doubt, don’t.
After laparoscopic surgery, once the tape strips holding the incision closed have fallen off, you can take a bath without fear of hurting your incision.
If you had an open procedure, with the larger traditional incision, you will want to wait until your surgeon removes the staples holding the incision closed, which typically happens about two weeks after surgery.
Some surgeries require postponing surgery for an extended period of time. After a hysterectomy, for example, the patient should refrain from taking baths for a minimum of six weeks.
In all cases, refer to the discharge materials you were given after surgery which should include your surgeon’s specific instructions for bathing. If there are no instructions regarding baths, call your surgeon’s office, the staff should be happy to provide a specific time frame.
Patient Discharge Handout. The Ohio State University Hospitals. Accessed at http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/weight_management/obesity/surgical/after_surgery