Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Survivor's Guide to VNS: Part 8 - Steri-Strips

When your VNS surgeon stitches up your neck and chest, he or she, may use Steri Stips to keep the wound closed. These actually turned out to be one of the most annyoinging parts of the surgery... There were not any decent instructions on how to remove the stupid things. I did as much research as I could, but never found anything that gave practical advice. So here is my best recomendation for dealing with Steri-strips:
Steri-Strips (Steristrips) are a nifty skin-closure product produced by the innovative 3M company. They have been commonly used to hold incisions together after surgery for many years now. Interestingly enough, there is not a lot of information on the web about the product. Evidently, the manufacturer and doctors assume that everyone knows exactly how to deal with the strips after surgery. Not quite so cut and dry. My surgeon, Dr. Brown, gave me a paper indicating that the strips should come off after about 7 days. That was it.

I went to pull them off after 7 days, but could not get them to pull away from my skin. I called the surgeon, but got useless instructions about them - "they can come off in 7 days". So I went searching on the internet... not much useful there either. So... I'm going to post my best recommendation, based on my experience, on how to deal with removing the strips:

1. Don't try to remove them until the time when your doctor says that you can, (3M recommends 7 - 14 days) and when you can get your wound wet.
2. Moisten the strips with warm water.
3. Pull very gently at the edges. Odds are, that you wont be able to pull very far.
4. Stop, take a scissor and cut off whatever part of the strips that are loose.
5. Wait till next day.
6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you have removed the strips entirely.
7. You will probably be left with some of the 3M glue stuff stuck to your skin. If so, you can remove the glue carefully with a cue-tip swab & rubbing alcohol.
8. The skin around the incision was still sore when I was trying to remove the glue, so I took several days to get it all off.

To anyone trying to remove Steri-Strips from their wound, take your time and don't let anyone try to pull them off for you!

When I did this post originally back in 2006, I got a few comments about other peoples experince with the SteriStrips. You can read them here.

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