One of our top priorities is ensuring that you make a complete, fast recovery following your procedure. The best thing you can do to promote healing and minimize complications is to adhere to aftercare guidelines carefully.
What to Expect After Your Procedure
While most patients undergo this procedure with minimal side effects, it is still a good idea to know possible short-term symptoms.
- Swelling: Swelling varies quite a bit according to patient and procedure. It peaks at 36–48 hours after surgery and will subside over the following three to four days. Your swelling may be accompanied by minor bruising.
- Discomfort: The most discomfort you will experience is usually immediately after the local anesthesia wears off. We recommend taking pain medication before the anesthesia completely subsides.
- Bleeding: Over the first 24 hours, you may experience some intermittent bleeding or “oozing” of blood from the surgical site. Often, blood mixes with saliva, which makes the bleeding look much worse than it is. Several days after surgery, you may occasionally notice blood-tinged saliva, particularly after you eat or brush your teeth. This symptom is normal, and there is no need to be alarmed.
- Sutures: Stitches are sometimes required to close the incision site. Unless told otherwise, you can assume that your stitches are self-dissolving. They may begin coming loose and falling out within a day or two and should be gone entirely within a week.
Biopsy Aftercare Instructions
Taking care of the surgical site is an important way to promote healing and minimize your risk of infection.
- Control bleeding: To reduce bleeding, keep your head elevated during the first 24 hours of your recovery. If bleeding is more than slight, constant biting pressure with a gauze pad will usually stop it. Place dampened gauze pads over the bleeding area and hold firm pressure for 30-minute intervals as needed.
- Eat right: When you return home, you may immediately begin drinking cool liquids. Avoid anything spicy or hot in temperature. Over the first week of your recovery, you may shift from liquids and soft foods to a more normal diet. Make sure to maintain adequate nutrition during recovery.
- Clean your teeth: You may start gently rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater rinses 24 hours after surgery. Use a saltwater solution consisting of 1/8 teaspoon per full glass of warm water. Do not swish vigorously. Do this around six times daily for the first week after your surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth on the day of surgery but be gentle around the surgical area.
- Control swelling: Apply an ice pack to the surgical area (rotating 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) throughout the first 12 hours after surgery. Following the initial 12 hours, using ice packs will have minimal effect.
- Manage discomfort: It is normal to have some discomfort after surgery. Start taking the prescribed pain medication before your local anesthesia wears off, making sure to take it with a full glass of water, juice, or soda to help ward off nausea.
- Take antibiotics: Your surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to treat or prevent infection. Follow the instructions on the bottle and finish the medication. Note that antibiotics can interfere with oral contraceptives for the remainder of that cycle. Women are encouraged to use a second means of birth control during this time.
- Stretch your jaw: Heat and stretching can prevent jaw soreness. Beginning 48 hours after surgery, apply heat for 15-20 minutes, then stretch the jaw open for a few minutes. Repeat this three or four times daily.
What to Avoid Following Your Procedure
For a safe and successful recovery, avoid the following activities immediately following your surgery.
- Using straws or spitting vigorously (24 hours after surgery).
- Rinsing your mouth vigorously (24 hours after surgery).
- Smoking (24 hours after surgery).
- Mixing alcohol with pain medications.
Seek Emergency Care
Do not hesitate to contact our office directly with any questions or concerns. In particular, we advise calling us if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Uncontrolled bleeding or pain
- Elevated temperature (100.5 F or higher)
- Swelling that begins or increases several days after surgery
- Inability to open mouth persisting beyond five days
- Persistent irritation at the IV site
If you feel you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911 right away.