Incision and Drainage

Incision and drainage are sometimes needed when addressing skin infections or abscesses in the lower extremities. At Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center in Greater Columbus, we specialize in comprehensive lower extremity wound care, including incision and drainage procedures tailored to individual needs.

Are you looking for lower extremity wound care in Greater Columbus, OH? Book an appointment with Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center today for expert guidance!

Do I Need Surgery?

Visiting an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t mean that surgery is necessary. Our orthopedic doctors always prefer to use non-surgical procedures to treat injuries.

What Our Patients Say

I arrived with sore toes and with little understanding of the cause for the soreness, Thanks to her patience and clear explanation, I left with an understanding of the cause of the pain, the treatment needed, guidelines for improving care of my toes, and medication for the healing process. This was a very helpful and educational visit.” — Tynan W.

What is Incision and Drainage?

Incision and drainage (I&D) is a procedure used to manage various skin infections. The incision is a purposeful cut made by a surgeon to access a specific area that is infected. Drainage involves the removal of accumulated fluids or pus from the affected site.

When is Incision and Drainage Needed?

Incision and drainage become necessary in certain situations where skin abscesses, particularly abscess cavities, form due to infections. Incision and drainage by a lower extremity wound care specialist can alleviate discomfort and promote healing for simple cutaneous abscesses.

The Incision and Drainage Procedure

Before your doctor performs a skin abscess incision and drainage procedure, you may be given antibiotics. Antibiotic therapy can help treat the infection and prevent the spread of infection in other parts of the body.

Incision and drainage are normally done on an outpatient basis. However, if the abscess is associated with severe bacterial infection, a longer hospital stay may be necessary.

A foot wound being bandaged after drainage.

Your doctor will clean and sterilize the affected area before making the incision. They will also administer a local anesthetic to numb the area. This is usually applied to the top of the cutaneous abscess where the incision will be made. In some cases, your doctor may inject anesthetic into the subcutaneous tissue around the abscess.

Your doctor will likely follow the following abscess drainage procedure:

  1. Your physician creates an opening through the numbed skin covering the abscess.
  2. Subsequently, the accumulated pus within the abscess cavity is carefully drained.
  3. Once the pus has been drained, your physician will clean the area using a sterile saline solution.
  4. The abscess remains uncovered, and a dressing is applied to absorb any further discharge of pus immediately following the procedure.
  5. Deep abscesses might need a gauze “wick” inserted to maintain the opening. Doing this helps the tissue to heal properly from the inside out. It also contributes toward adequate drainage throughout the recovery process.
  6. Additionally, your physician might decide to send a sample of the pus to a laboratory for culture analysis to identify the source of the bacterial infection.

How Long Does the Procedure Take?

Incision and drainage is an outpatient procedure and you usually will return on the same day. The precise duration of the procedure can vary based on the complexity and size of the abscess.

Incision and Drainage Post-Procedure Care

After the incision and drainage procedure, you will likely need to keep the dressing covering the wound for a few days or a week. During that time, you will need to change the dressing if it becomes soaked with the drainage. If your doctor placed a wick inside the abscess cavity, then this packing material will need to be replaced or removed after a few days.

Prophylactic antibiotics might be prescribed to prevent infections, particularly those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or anaerobic bacteria. You may also be prescribed pain relief for a few days.

After about a week, you will need to return to the doctor for a follow-up visit. They will remove the packing and remove the dressing to examine the wound. You may be encouraged to use a warm compress for the first few days. This will encourage the wound to heal faster. After a week or two, the abscess should have healed.

A doctor preparing for an incision on a foot.

Benefits of Incision and Drainage

Incision and drainage are effective ways to remove puss from an abscess. Doing so can provide pain relief, reduce swelling, and promote healing.

Choose Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center

At Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center in Columbus, Ohio, we care about your lower extremity health. Our expert team offers comprehensive wound care treatments, including incision and drainage. Our aim is always to ensure optimal recovery and well-being.

When it concerns your lower extremities, timely and specialized care plays a pivotal role in achieving the best outcomes. Reach out to our specialists today to book your appointment!

Medically reviewed by Terrence M. Philbin, DO

Our Lower Extremity Wound Care Specialists


Board Certified Podiatric Surgeon and Wound Specialist


Clinical Podiatrist, Certified Wound Specialist


Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Foot & Ankle Surgeon
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