Postoperative Instructions: Supraclavicular Flap

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Postoperative Instructions: Supraclavicular Flap

Immediate Postoperative Care

  1. Hospital Stay: You will likely stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery so that your medical team can monitor the flap and ensure it is healing properly.
  2. Monitoring the Flap: Nurses will check the flap frequently to ensure it has a good blood supply. They will look for signs of healthy tissue, such as color, warmth, and capillary refill.

Wound Care

  1. Dressings: Keep the dressings over the flap and donor site clean and dry. Do not remove them unless instructed by your surgeon.
  2. Drains: If you have drains in place, follow the instructions provided by your medical team on how to care for them. Drains are usually removed within a few days.
  3. Incision Care: Gently clean the incision sites with soap and water, pat dry, and apply any prescribed ointments. Avoid scrubbing or applying any harsh substances.


  1. Rest: Get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities for the first few weeks. It is important not to strain the surgical sites.
  2. Head and Neck Movement: Limit excessive movements of your head and neck to avoid putting stress on the flap. Your surgeon may recommend specific neck exercises to prevent stiffness.
  3. Positioning: Keep your head elevated on pillows, especially when sleeping, to reduce swelling. Avoid lying flat.

Pain Management

  1. Medications: Take pain medications as prescribed by your surgeon. Do not wait for the pain to become severe before taking your medication.
  2. Avoid NSAIDs: Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen unless approved by your surgeon, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.

Diet and Hydration

  1. Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, unless otherwise instructed by your medical team.
  2. Diet: Start with a soft diet and gradually return to your normal diet as tolerated. Avoid very hot or spicy foods that may cause discomfort.

Follow-up Appointments

  1. Scheduled Visits: Attend all follow-up appointments with your surgeon. These visits are crucial for monitoring the healing process and ensuring there are no complications.
  2. Stitch Removal: Stitches may be removed in about one to two weeks, depending on your surgeon’s instructions.

Signs to Watch For

  1. Infection: Watch for signs of infection such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge from the incision sites, and fever.
  2. Flap Problems: Be aware of changes in the flap such as color change, increased pain, or loss of sensation, which could indicate a problem with the blood supply.
  3. Bleeding: Report any significant bleeding from the incision sites to your surgeon immediately.

General Advice

  1. No Smoking: Do not smoke or use tobacco products, as they can impair healing and affect the blood supply to the flap.
  2. Avoid Alcohol: Avoid alcohol consumption as it can interfere with medications and the healing process.
  3. Good Nutrition: Maintain a healthy diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals to support healing.

When to Call Your Surgeon

  1. Severe Pain: If you experience severe pain that is not relieved by prescribed medications.
  2. Flap Concerns: If the flap appears pale, blue, or excessively swollen.
  3. High Fever: If you develop a fever over 101°F (38.3°C).
  4. Unexpected Symptoms: If you notice any other unusual symptoms or have concerns about your recovery.

Contact Information

Keep the contact information of your surgeon and the hospital handy in case you need to reach out with any concerns or questions.