Hair Removal for the Surgical Patient

Pre-Operative Hair Removal.

In times gone by patients were asked to remove a lot of their body hair as an infection control measure. Fortunately as time has passed and research has allowed professionals to base their practices on scientific and proven evidence thee practices are becoming out-dated in the UK. It is however common to be asked to remove body hair from the surgical site. You may be told during your pre-assessment appointment (if you have one) whether or not to shave your surgical site or whether it will be done in theatre. Many surgeons now shave the patients themselves or allow the nursing staff to carry out this task. It has been proven that for many types of surgery it is more beneficial to remove the hair on and around the surgical site just prior to the operation beginning.

After Your Operation.

When you have woken up from your procedure and recovered from your anaesthetic you may find that you have had some of your body hair removed. This is important for many reasons. It may be that the surgical site of incision was covered with a layer of body hair which had to be removed prior to the procedure. This hair removal will probably have been carried out by the theatre staff, or occasionally on the ward before you were taken down to the operating theatre. The hair needs removing in order to access the site accurately, to prevent the hair from interfering with wound closure and also for infection control purposes.

You may also find that you have had a small rectangular-shaped area of hair removed from either your thigh, abdomen or buttock. This is because some of the equipment used during surgeries is operated with the assistance of electrical devices that cauterise blood vessels and allow for easy dissection of tissues (known as electro-surgery).

This concept is used for many types of surgery and requires an electrosurgical plate to be applied to the patient’s leg as a matter of safety. Without doing this action the equipment cannot be used. In order for the plate to be used safely it must have good surface-to-surface contact with the patient’s skin, therefore any excessive hair must be removed. The hair is removed using either a handheld disposable razor, or a specially-made battery operated device that has a disposable single-use razor head.

Laser Hair Removal.

Some patients actually go into clinics and hospitals because they want excess hair removed and this is now carried out using lasers and highly sophisticated technology. The laser beam penetrates down to the follicle which grows from the melanin in the skin. By directing the heat from the laser into the area the follicle is effectively destroyed. This type of therapy is frequently used to assist those with excess hair and can be used anywhere, commonly on the face, lower arms and around the body.

Hair removal before surgery can help the wound stay free from germs after surgery and may be necessary for the surgeon to perform the operation effectively.

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