Soft Tissue Complications To Watch Out For After Foot Surgery
Posted by Jenn F. on Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Due to the anatomical complexity of the foot, sometimes soft tissue complications can occur after surgery. A good surgeon will anticipate issues before they arise and have contingency treatment plans ready to go. Yet, knowing how to spot the warning signs of these complications is also important for patients as they recover at home. Far too often, a patient holds off on calling the doctor until a serious condition arises.
“The first thing to look out for is infection,” explains Dr. Ryan Minara, a specialist in reconstructive foot surgery at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City. He adds, “It is common for the foot to be somewhat red and swollen after surgery. However, if there is redness extending past your bandages, a dramatic and unexplained increased in pain, and increased discharge from the surgical incision, the area may have become infected.” If there is concern for infection, the foot surgeon should be contacted immediately.
A study of 56,000 foot and ankle surgeries by the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that, after infection, the most common complication was “wound dehiscence,” which is a rupture along the suture line. Bleeding, pain, inflammation, fever, and wound opening are signs of this complication. Risk factors include: age over 65, wound infection, pulmonary disease, obesity, hypertension and steroid use. Often, a patient lifts something too heavy or tries to do too much, which can cause a rupture. If this happens, you’ll need to visit your surgeon to have the area disinfected, re-stitched, and covered.
Localized tissue compression can cause skin necrosis, blisters, and pressure ulcers. Often, this occurs where skin tissues overlies bone. Sometimes it occurs during surgery or after the wound has been dressed. “Your foot should be pink and blanch white when you press down,” says podiatric specialist Dr. Katherine Lai of The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. “If that is not the case, it could be a sign that
the dressing or cast is too tight and needs to be changed to prevent ulceration.”
“A common and less immediate complication is thick scarring — which is sometimes referred to as a hypertrophic or keloid scar,” says Dr. Minara. “Unfortunately, some people lay down scar tissue more easily than others, and form keloids. If you have keloid formation in other parts of the body, there is a good chance you may develop one after foot surgery. In general, the doctors at the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine specialize in utilizing plastic surgery techniques to close wounds whenever possible.”
A Final Word About Foot Surgery Post-Operative Care
“Swelling will inevitably occur after foot surgery, since gravity is working against the foot,” says NYC foot surgeon Dr. Nadia Levy. “The best things you can do to avoid irritation from the swelling is appropriately rest, ice, elevate and follow the post-operative instructions. Also, start off wearing wider and more supportive shoes once you are allowed to wear regular shoes again.” The surgery team at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine is here to help — before, during, and after your treatment.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.