Managing a postoperative hematoma

A post-operative hematoma is an accumulation of blood in the tissues following surgery. It usually results from a vascular lesion that was not properly controlled during the operation. Hematomas can vary in size and severity, some being more painful than others. They can also cause inflammation and swelling around the affected area.

Hematomas are a common complication following surgery. Let's explore how the cold can be used to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with these hematomas.

Causes of postoperative hematoma

There are several possible causes for the formation of a hematoma after surgery:

  • Blood vessel damage During surgery, blood vessels may be damaged, causing blood to leak into surrounding tissues.
  • Coagulation problems Some people have coagulation problems that make their blood more likely to form clots or hematomas.
  • Anticoagulant drugs Blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin may increase the risk of postoperative hematoma.

Symptoms of postoperative hematoma

Symptoms of a hematoma vary depending on its size, location and the severity of the condition. Common signs include:

  • Pain Pain: pain is usually the first symptom experienced by people with a post-operative hematoma. It can range from mild to severe, depending on the size and location of the hematoma.
  • Swelling swelling is often present around the area of the hematoma.
  • Redness The skin around the hematoma may become reddish as blood accumulates in the area.
  • Heat The affected area may also feel warm to the touch, due to the inflammation caused by the hematoma.
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Potential complications

In some cases, a postoperative hematoma may cause additional complications, such as:

  • Nerve compression, which can lead to loss of sensation or even a paralysis temporary.
  • Infection, if bacteria penetrate the hematoma and cause inflammation.
  • Tissue necrosis, i.e. the death of surrounding cells due to the pressure exerted by the hematoma.

Preventing the appearance of a hematoma

While it's not always possible to prevent the formation of a hematoma after surgery, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medical historyThis includes any clotting problems or medications you are taking that may increase your risk.
  • Follow the post-operative instructions provided by your doctor, particularly with regard to wound care and the resumption of your normal activities.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or exerting yourself too hard in the days following your operation, as this could put pressure on the operated area and encourage the formation of a hematoma.

A postoperative hematoma can cause pain, swelling and potentially further complications. Knowing the causes, symptoms and treatment options for this condition is essential to minimize the risk of complications and ensure a quick and complete recovery.

Relieving the pain of inflammation with cold

The use of cold, also known as cryotherapy, is a non-invasive, non-medicated method used to reduce pain and theinflammation in a variety of conditions. It has been particularly effective for painful post-operative haematomas. Here are some of the main reasons why cold can be beneficial:

Vasoconstriction and reduced bleeding

Cold causes vasoconstriction or narrowing of the blood vessels, which can help reduce ongoing bleeding in the hematoma area. This can allow the body to begin resorbing and healing the hematoma more quickly.

Reduced inflammation and swelling

Cold also helps reduce inflammation and swelling around the hematoma by restricting blood flow to the affected area. This can help reduce pressure on surrounding tissues and ease the pain felt by the patient.

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Local analgesia

Cold has a local anaesthetic effect, which can help relieve pain directly at source. By applying cold to the affected area, the pain-transmitting nerves are slowed down, reducing the sensation of pain.

Apply cold to treat a hematoma

There are several ways to apply cold to effectively treat a post-operative hematoma:

Cooling gel pockets

Cooling gel packs are a convenient, portable option for applying cold to the affected area. They can be stored in the freezer and used as needed. Above all, don't put the gel pack directly on the skin to avoid frostbite. Instead, use a towel or cloth between the skin and the gel pack.

Derivative baths

A derivative bath is a sitz bath with cold water, in which the affected part of the body is soaked for 15 to 20 minutes. This method can be particularly useful for hematomas on the lower limbs.

Ice packs

An ice compress can be prepared by wrapping ice cubes in a cloth. Apply the compress to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, checking the color and temperature of the skin regularly.

Other treatments for post-operative hematoma

Treatment of a postoperative hematoma depends on the size, location and symptoms experienced. Common treatment options include:

Pain medication

Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, can be used to relieve the pain associated with a postoperative hematoma.


An elastic bandage or compression garment can be used to exert pressure on the affected area, helping to reduce swelling and pain.


Elevating the affected area above the level of the heart can help reduce swelling by promoting venous return.

Hematoma drainage

In some cases, it may be necessary to drain the hematoma by suction using a needle and syringe. This procedure must be carried out by a healthcare professional.


If the hematoma is large or causes serious complications, surgery may be required to remove it.

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