One of the first things anyone wants to know after suffering an injury or going through a surgical procedure is how long it will take them to heal. The answer, of course, depends upon a variety of factors, but there are a number of steps you can take to help your wound heal faster. In addition to following your physician or surgeon’s wound care instructions, understanding how the body heals after an injury will help you to make better choices that support effective and rapid healing.
Understanding the Stages of Healing
When the body has suffered an injury, the immune system immediately kicks into action to stabilize the wound site and begin the healing process. Regardless of the severity of the wound, the healing process consists of several discrete stages.
While blood loss following a traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of one and 46, bleeding plays an essential role in the healing process. That’s because blood clots are the body’s primary means of closing a wound site to protect it from infection, avoid further blood loss, and create a stable healing environment. Clotting typically begins within minutes, forming a scab as blood exposed to the open air dries.
Although swelling is often associated with infection, it is also a sign that the body is mobilizing the immune system to cleanse the wound site and prepare it for further healing. As blood vessels expand and white blood cells are deployed to destroy foreign bacteria and dead tissue, the skin may become tender, reddish, and warm. Clear fluid may also secrete from the wound, which is an indication that the body is flushing out potential contaminants. If swelling persists or the wound secretes a greenish or yellow discharge, however, the wound may be infected.
Once the wound site has been stabilized, the body begins to rebuild the damaged tissue. Typically beginning about five days after the injury occurs, this stage can take as little as a few weeks for minor wounds. The body repairs broken blood vessels and replaces damaged tissue with granulation tissue, which slowly pulls the wound edges closer together beneath the scab.
Granulation tissue grows back slightly differently than the tissue it replaces, resulting in a scar. When the regrowth phase is completed and the scab falls off, the resulting tissue is weaker and less flexible than the skin surrounding it. Over time, the new tissue will continue to strengthen, but it will usually have a noticeably different appearance. The scar may disappear completely in the case of minor wounds.
How to Make a Wound Heal Faster
While much of the healing process takes place naturally, there are several things that you can do to help your wound heal faster. Whether the wound is the result of a surgical procedure or a minor accident that did not require medical attention, taking the proper precautions can ensure that the healing process doesn’t take any longer than it should.
Get Plenty of Rest…
The body’s immune system consumes a great deal of energy when it’s working to combat infection and repair tissue. When the body doesn’t have time to rest and recover, it struggles to heal consistently. Recent research has even shown that disruption to sleep cycles can significantly delay the healing process. Failing to get enough rest also makes the body more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections, both of which can further tax the immune system and prolong healing.
...But Stay Active
On the other hand, too much rest can be detrimental to the healing process. Regular exercise and activity help to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and improve mental health. That last benefit is extremely important in combatting depression, which is a major risk for patients enduring prolonged hospital stays. Activities such as swimming, running, or even taking short walks can help patients remain active to promote better healing.
Watch What You Eat
Foods rich in key vitamins and nutrients (such as vitamin A and C or potassium and zinc) can provide the immune system with the support it needs to do its job more effectively. There are a number of foods that can help reduce inflammation and several that should be a part of anyone’s diet following a surgical procedure. Foods heavy in nitrates, spices, and sugar, however, can often cause inflammation or strain skin-tissue and blood vessels.
This one should be obvious, but many patients fail to appreciate the many ways that smoking makes it more difficult for the body to heal. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes lowers the oxygen level of blood vessels, which causes them to constrict and limit blood flow to damaged areas. Reducing oxygen also acts as a brake on the immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fend off infection and rebuild tissue. Even a single cigarette can significantly impact healing outcomes because it takes a full three days to rid the blood system of carbon monoxide.
Keep the Wound Clean
Although skin heals best with a slightly moist environment, that also happens to be the ideal breeding ground for the bacteria that can cause an infection and complicate the healing process. Keeping the wound surface clean without also making it too dry can be a difficult balance for many people. In the case of surgical wounds, this may entail changing dressings on a regular basis to maintain a clean and sanitary wound site. Avoiding infection, however, will allow the healing process to go more smoothly.
How BandGrip Can Help Your Wound Heal Faster
BandGrip Micro-Anchor Skin Closures offer a number of important advantages that help wounds heal faster and more naturally than would be possible with closure methods like sutures and staples. Minimally invasive, BandGrip’s patented micro-anchors grip the skin securely and pull wound edges together to facilitate the body’s natural healing process. Research has shown that BandGrip’s waterproof seal against the skin creates the ideal environment for healing while eliminating the need for frequent dressing changes and keeping out foreign contaminants that could cause infection.
With no whiskers or edges to catch on clothing or obstacles, BandGrip supports much greater levels of ambulation and activity than traditional closure methods. This allows patients to resume regular activity or begin rehabilitation faster than ever. They can even take a shower or enter the water 24 hours after application. While it may not be able to help with your cigarette cravings or encourage you to eat healthier, BandGrip’s innovative characteristics encourage behaviors that will help your wound heal faster.
No one wants to be laid up with an injury for any longer than they need to. By taking the appropriate steps to help your wound heal faster, you can give your immune system all the support it needs to get you back to your regular lifestyle. BandGrip Micro-Anchor Skin Closures facilitate faster healing outcomes, making them the ideal choice among leading wound closure modalities.