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Post-Microdiscectomy Bruising: Should You Be Concerned?


8.4 - Is Bruising Normal After a Microdiscectomy

A microdiscectomy can be a life-changing procedure for a person who is suffering from debilitating back pain caused by a herniated disc. However, as with any surgical intervention, it is natural to experience certain postoperative symptoms. One common concern among patients is the presence of bruising around the surgical site. This article explores the topic of bruising after a microdiscectomy, including its causes, when it is considered normal, and when it may warrant medical attention.

The Basics of Microdiscectomy

Before we dive into the specifics of bruising, let us briefly review what a microdiscectomy entails. It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve roots caused by a herniated disc. The surgeon removes a portion of the damaged disc to alleviate pain, numbness, and weakness in the back and legs.

Why Bruising Occurs After a Microdiscectomy

Bruising is a common occurrence after surgery, including microdiscectomy. During the procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions to access the herniated disc, causing some trauma to the surrounding tissues. This trauma can lead to blood vessels breaking and leaking blood into the nearby tissues, resulting in the characteristic appearance of bruising.

When Is Bruising Considered Normal?

In most cases, bruising after a microdiscectomy is a normal part of the healing process. The extent and duration of bruising can vary from person to person, but it typically subsides within a few weeks. The severity of the bruising can be influenced by factors such as the individual's natural tendency to bruise, the surgical technique used, and the patient's overall health.

How to Address Postoperative Bruising

Bruising after a microdiscectomy is generally harmless and usually goes away on its own within two to four weeks. However, there are some things you can do to reduce bruising and speed up healing, such as:

  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses to the bruised area for 15 minutes several times a day for the first 48 hours
  • Elevate your legs above your heart when lying down to reduce swelling 
  • Avoid heat sources such as hot showers, heating pads, or sun exposure, as they may increase bleeding and inflammation
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which may interfere with blood clotting and healing
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamin C, iron, and zinc to support tissue repair and wound healing

When to Seek Medical Advice

While bruising after a microdiscectomy is normal and usually not a cause for concern, there are some circumstances that call for seeking medical attention immediately, such as if you have:

  • Severe pain that does not improve with medication or worsens over time
  • Symptoms of infection, such as fever, chills, redness, warmth, pus, or foul odor around the incision site
  • Signs of nerve damage, such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Symptoms of bleeding or hematoma, such as swelling, tightness, or pressure in the lower back or abdomen
  • Signs of a blood clot, such as swelling, pain, warmth, or redness in the legs, or chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away. These could indicate a serious complication that requires urgent treatment.

Bruising is a common occurrence after a microdiscectomy, often resolving on its own within a few weeks. While it can be concerning, understanding when it is normal and when it may indicate a problem is crucial. By following the recommended guidelines for managing bruising and being aware of when to seek medical advice, you can ensure a smooth recovery and optimal outcomes from your microdiscectomy procedure. Remember, always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions regarding your postoperative healing process.

Although herniated disc treatment with microdiscectomy surgery is generally very successful, a hole is left in the outer wall of the disc. Patients with a large hole in the outer ring of the disc experience 70 percent of all reherniations after surgery. A new treatment, Barricaid, which is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, was specifically designed to close the large hole often left in the spinal disc after discectomy. In a large-scale study, Barricaid was proven 95 percent effective in a study of over 500 patients. This means 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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