ACL or other ligament reconstruction surgery requires arthroscopic portal incisions to be made below the patella on both sides of the patellar tendon. Additional incisions must also be made depending on the specific procedure(s), the type of graft being used as well as any additional secondary procedures that may be done along with the reconstruction, i.e., open meniscal repair, etc.
As instructed, your caregivers and physical therapist should never remove the initial surgical dressings. Your dressings will be changed on your initial post-operative office appointment. Dressings should remain dry during this time. Wet dressings can lead to bacterial growth and infection. If you shower, your dressing should be wrapped in plastic and covered to avoid water. If they do get wet, please contact the office for further instruction.
SECOND APPOINTMENT AND DRESSING CHANGE
Following ACL or other ligament reconstruction surgery, your dressings will be changed again on your second post-operative office appointment and sutures will be clipped. Most patients can return to normal showering after this visit. Allow the water to run over the steri-strips with no scrubbing of the area and pat dry. No submersion of your incisions such as in a bathtub, jacuzzi, or swimming pool until 4 weeks post-op or until all incisions are healing well and closed.
Steri-strips will be placed on the incisions after suture removal. These will remain until they fall off on their own, do not pull them off. Continue to wear an ACE wrap or knee sleeve in public and to bed as long as the steri-strips are still on your skin. When they fall off, you no longer have to keep the knee covered. If the knee is still swollen, continue to wear the wrap/sleeve.
When the steri-strips fall off, begin massaging your incisions with the pad of your finger for 5 minutes per day to break up scar tissue. Use this time to massage around the knee cap as well. Vitamin E is recommended to use while you are massaging your scars to help soften them. Using sunscreen on fresh scars while outdoors will help prevent darkening of the scars.