Bowling Green – Glasgow – Russellville – Franklin

wound care instructions for skin flaps

A skin flap involves the transfer of adjacent, normal skin and tissue into a surgical wound both to repair function and appearance.


  • Please leave the bandage in place for at least 24 hours following surgery. The bandage should be kept dry during this time. For pain/discomfort, try Tylenol first. Dr. Cowan may prescribe a stronger pain medication if necessary.  Try to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) for the first 24 hours following surgery as they may increase the risk of post-operative bleeding.  
  •  Clean the wound 2-3 times per day with baby shampoo. Cover the wound (bandage) but do not use ointment (keep dry). Paper tape is best used to secure any bandages.


All wounds heal best when kept clean, moist and covered. The following steps will promote optimal wound healing and yield the best cosmetic result:


  1. Once directed by our staff, you may carefully remove the bandage, but do so slowly, so not to disturb the surgical site. Clean the surgical site at least 2-3 times per day with mild soap and water or a mixture of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water using a Q-tip. Always begin in the center of the skin flap and gently roll to the edges of the wound. NEVER use a rubbing or side-to-side motion to clean the area.


  2. Apply a thin layer of mupirocin (topical antibiotic) to the entire surgical site and immediate surrounding area.  Ointments prohibit the formation of a thick scab which delays the healing process. You may also be asked to cover the flap with Vaseline gauze. This maintains the moisture barrier and provides additional protection to the site.


  3. Cover the flap with a non-adherent dressing (Telfa) or a large Band-Aid. Be sure the entire flap is covered. For extra protection, cover the non-stick dressing with a layer of gauze. Paper tape is best to used secure any bandages. Tape or gauze should never touch the flap directly.


  4. All flaps MUST be covered at night, until otherwise directed, to minimize unintentional trauma that can occur while you sleep. Additional gauze and tape should be used to secure the bandage and protect the flap.


  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cup (to mix half & half with warm water and hydrogen peroxide)
  • Q-tips or gauze (wet them in the peroxide/water solution and gently clean the wound)
  • Mupirocin 2% ointment (prescription topical antibiotic provided by Bowling Green Dermatology)