The Capriciousness of Healing

Lauren Greenberg, MD writes on her blog:

Posted on April 1, 2010

Yes, yes.  I know.  I love those big SAT words.  “The capriciousness of healing….” sounds like it should be a title of a novel.

But I talk about this a lot with my patients prior to surgery.  Surgery is not an exact science.  I measure, and sculpt, and use tiny instruments, and put in many sutures.  But I can’t control exactly what your body does. 

I am blunt when I counsel about surgery.  I think I may scare some patients, but you need to know what you are getting into, and I don’t know who is going to heal effortlessly, painlessly, scarless-ly, and who won’t.

Your body is not symmetric.  Your body will not heal evenly.  One side will swell more.  One will hurt more.  Your actions are not symmetric.  You likely use your right hand more, pick your child up with your left arm, and sleep on your same side every night.  You may get a small infection, or form a thicker scar in one part of the scar while the other parts of the scar heal seamlessly, or spit a dissolving suture which your body should dissolve under the skin, but instead spits out through the skin. 

The corollary to this capriciousness of healing, is you MUST keep your appointments with your doctor.  I know for most of my patients it seems like ‘why did I come in?”  When you are out a week or two, you will feel healed.  Our visits will be short.  For most of you, you are healing just right, and I am not worried about the shape, position, volume, or scar.  But when I see you, I am looking for the little things.  The signs that something is heading in the wrong direction.  When I catch those things early, we can avoid a larger problem.

Surgery is a journey.  You and your doctor are a team. And healing can be capricious, so we need to keep an eye on how it is going.

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