Incision care

  • You may remove the primary dressings (gauze covered with a clear Tegaderm®) three days after surgery. You may then apply a bandaid as needed for comfort or if there is drainage from the sites.
  • After the chest tube is removed, the incision may continue to drain for 48 hours. If the dressing become soaked, reinforce the dressing with Tegaderm®. You can remove the dressing after 48 hours.
  • Your child may shower or take a tub bath once the primary dressings are removed. Clean the incision sites with soap and water.
  • The paper tape (Steri-strips) covering the incision sites will fall off on their own. If they are still in place after 7 days, you may remove them.
  • Please call our office if your child develops fever of 100.5 or greater or if you note increasing redness, swelling or drainage from the incision sites.


  • Your child may gradually resume regular activities as tolerated. Pace your child with a balance of activity and rest using good judgment.
  • Your child should be up, dressed and moving each day. It is normal for your child to feel tired after discharge, but it is important to take deep breaths and to walk to expand the lungs.
  • Dress your child comfortably in loose fitting clothing that allows him/her to move freely.
  • Young adults may not drive while taking pain medication or if they cannot move freely because of pain or discomfort.


  • Your child may take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®) for discomfort. Your child may have a prescription for stronger pain medication.

Please call the office if your child develops any of the following:

  • A temperature (rectal or oral) of >100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If your child develops shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • If your child has pain despite the prescription medication.
  • If there is increasing redness, swelling or drainage from the incision sites.
  • If there is drainage three days after the chest tube is removed or if the drainage looks cloudy.


  • If you do not have a follow-up appointment scheduled, please call your surgeon’s office to schedule a visit 2 weeks from the time of discharge from the hospital.

    These instructions are provided as a basic postoperative guideline. Please call to speak with your pediatric surgeon or the nurse practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about your child.

    Rev. 12/2019. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed in this handout. This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for a doctor's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.