keeping incision dry

I have recently - a week ago - had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The incisions are ok and the swelling is minimal, but my healthcare provider said I would be very ill advised to immerse the incisions in water, whether a swimming pool or, especially, the ocean. Problem is my spring break is coming up and I planned to go paddling at the Georgia coast. I have a drysuit, so that’s an option, but it’ll be 65-70 degrees next week.

So, two questions: First, will I roast in my (NRS) drysuit in that kind of weather (assuming minimal under garments). Second, is there any alternative? A friend told me about a bandage thing called ‘aqua armor’ that I might apply and wear with some (non) ‘dry’ pants that I’ve had. Or is it better just to be safe and go with the drysuit. I do not want an infection. I do not plan to roll, but who knows what can happen.


Next time find a surgeon who surfs
How big are the incisions ? Did this guy open you up with a steak knife or something ? Small incisions usually heal within 2 weeks enough you can get wet in the ocean. If they are small incisions you can wrap your knees with plastic tape and wear some spray pants.

waterproof wound dressing.

I dunno, something has to work without too much compromise or discomfort

keeping incisions dry
There are three, very small arthroscopic incisions. My follow up was with the surgeon’s assistant, who urged me to be quite careful about infections. It will have been around 10 days since the surgery. Meanwhile, I’ve seen references to Tegaderm. Anyone use this?

Drysuit Shold Be Fine
You should be fairly comfortable in your drysuit. Our waters stay cold enough to require good thermal protection all year round, so we often end up paddling in drysuits in those summer air temps. If you roll, cooling off is simple. If you don’t, I find that just taking beaching the boat and taking an occasional swim keep me cool. A water-soaked ball cap helps.

Tegaderm, OpSite
I am reluctant to advise you to ignore advice coming from your surgeon, but if the incisions appear to be healing well, the skin barrier should be reestablished by this point in time.

Yes, I think a transparent, water-proof barrier like Tegaderm or OpSite is the best way to keep the incisions dry. These are transparent, self-adhesive dressings often used to cover the sites of entry of intravenous cannulae these days, and for other purposes.

Get the small ones used for IV dressings. Clean the skin around the incision well with an alcohol pad and allow to dry before applying. Have a few spares in case one comes off, or if you are planning a longer trip. Don’t leave them in place for more than 3 days.

The other option is to ask the surgeon him or herself.

dry pro
Probably overkill for your purposes, but I had a wound and found this dry pro covering

worked very well. You pump out the air and it stays very dry even when swimming.

other issue
Even though paddling doesn’t really load up knees, you need to be careful about injuring what was fixed.

Be it carrying/pulling the boat to the water, or some weird bracing, shit happens.

A friend had similar surgery last year. Then he developed antibiotic resistant infection, this is when it got really scientific. It took, I think, over a month to get things sorted out, he was not 100% three months later.

These are the same folks that took their medical applications and made the best phone and tablet water proof case I’ve found.

Perhaps something like the PICC line?

See you on the water,


The RIver Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Dr. Orders
Personally I would follow dr’s orders and keep it dry.

I can vouch for the DryCorp products as I do sell represent their line of DryCase’s. The nice thing about the seal is that you know when it is not working because you don’t get the “vacuum sealed” look.

Just wear your drysuit AND put a bandage on it to keep it from getting wet inside the drysuit from your sweat. Their are lots of waterproof bandages available. While I wouldn’t trust them for getting really wet I would under a drysuit.

Wear a light wicking layer top/bottom and thin wool socks underneath your drysuit. You can manage to stay comfortable with a bit of dippping or rolling. You can always cool off by just scooping water.

Why risk infection?

Stay home and dry

– Last Updated: Mar-02-11 11:38 AM EST –

It's damn near impossible to keep wounds 100% dry.
If you exert yourself, you'll sweat - even in breathable material drysuits.
Sweat under an inflatable plastic cuff..yeah, think about it a second.

ANY moisture will cause maceration.
- a softening of the tissues jeopardizing the stitches.

Once the area becomes moist, the stitches will loosen
and you'll get a staph or strep infection immediately.
Bacteria is ever present and only by being
vigilant do you keep it out of the skin.

Let it rest or you'll end up with loose stiches
- possibly increasing the chance of scarring / keloids

Keloids are the excess growth of scar tissue
at the site of a healed skin injury.

My 2 cents worth having been in a similar situation, let it rest.
Have a beer, talk to people on shore
- your time on the water will come quickly again

keeping incisions dry
You guys/gals are really great. I so much appreciate all of your thoughts and suggestions. The drypro stuff seems very good, altho I might stick with the drysuit.

Meanwhile, I spoke with my PT today. He looked at the incisions and said, ‘of course you can swim and kayak.’ He then texted the surgeon who agreed. Bottom line is that the rule of thumb for this stuff is 10-14 days before going in the water. It’ll be 11 days after surgery that I paddle, so, with the Tergaderm and spray pants, I think I’m ok. So, I’ll listen to the surgeon - who said I could actually swim today - but play it extra safe. Again, I deeply appreciate y’all taking time to advise me.

I paddled in Georgia year before last
in March. I took my drysuit and was comfortable the entire time. By the end of the month I wore a single layer of smart wool on the bottom and a capilene shirt on top. It was fine.

Not a Dr.
I understand the comments to “listen to your Dr.” so I won’t tell you to ignore his/her advice. But… I would get a second (or third or 4th) opinion from an MD (sorry, not the NP/PA who gave it to you). That advice sounds extremely conservative for three tiny holes over that time frame.

"it would be very ill advised …"
Do whatever you want to do. I played some very ill advised basketball while in a halo vest and got an extra month in my halo vest for my troubles. What’s the worst that could happen? It could split open and get infected, maybe tear where there was surgery, big deal. You got two knees, but spring break only comes once a year. What do doctors know about fun? Screw 'em.