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When can I take a bath?

Dr. Robert S. Pashman

Los Angeles, CA

You can usually bathe 72 hours after your surgery or after your wound seals.

Dr. Christopher L. Hamill

Buffalo General HospitalBuffalo General Hospital

In 10 - 14 days after surgery.

Dr. Dennis G. Crandall

Mesa, AZ

Taking a shower is allowed after a few days from surgery. Taking a bath is not a good idea until at least 4 - 6 weeks for patients who are active and mobile and not fused to the sacrum. For patients with adult scoliosis fused to the sacrum, getting down into a bathtub is too much stress on the spine and should not be done before 3 – 4 months.

Dr. John P. Lubicky

Chicago, IL
Shriner's Hospital for Children

You can take a bath or shower about one week after your surgery, provided your wound is healing well and there is no drainage or signs of infection. You do need to dry off right away after you come out of the bath or shower.

Dr. Scott J. Luhmann

St. Louis, MO

You can take a bath, usually, at two weeks after surgery—after the skin incision has healed.

Dr. Robert W. Molinari

Rochester, NY

Patients are usually allowed to shower around four days after surgery.

Dr. David W. Polly, Jr.

Minneapolis, MN

You can usually shower in a week. I tell my patients to wait 3 weeks to take a bath.

Dr. Baron S. Lonner

New York, NY

We discourage patients from taking a bath until their spinal fusion is fully healed at between three and six months after surgery. The reason for this is that when you get into a bathtub you tend to twist and flex your spine, which places stress on the instrumentation. Once the fusion is solid, there is no reason that you could not take a bath.

Dr. Michael F. O'Brien

Denver Orthopaedics

I treat the incision from scoliosis surgery the same as all incision. We keep the incision dry for 3-4 days or until all drainage stops. Then we allow "quickie" showers where the patient can be in the shower for 1-2 minutes and then the wound is dried well. After 10 days, the patient can shower and bathe as they desire. If the wound was slow to heal this time table may be pushed out by several days or weeks.

Dr. W. Christopher Urban

Glen Burnie, MD

Patients may shower when their surgeon determines that the wound has sealed and there are no signs of infection — usually a week after surgery. If there is any concern, a water resistant protective dressing may be worn during showers. Soaking in a bathtub should be avoided for at least three weeks after surgery or until the incision is fully healed.

Dr. Stephen Ondra

Chicago, IL

Typically a wound has sufficient healing between 24-48 hours to allow a patient to safely shower. Water running over the wound will not enter a wound that has the skin seal over into the stitches. As such, once the patient's drains are removed for 24 hours, I will let patients shower. Bathing can resume after all stitches are removed.

Dr. Charles E. Johnston, II

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group

Usually 2 weeks after the operation you can get everything wet. Prior to that you should just sponge bath.

Dr. James Mooney, III

Detroit, MI

Bathing, i.e., showers can usually be taken within five to seven days after surgery. Generally, we ask that the wound be patted dry and a dry dressing kept over the wound after showering.

Dr. John T. Smith

University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

The incision is generally healed by 5-7 days after surgery. After that time, patients can take normal showers, as long as the incision is healed and not draining.

Dr. Jean-Pierre C. Farcy

New York, NY
M.M.C. Spine Center

Usually after 10 days if the wound is totally healed.

Dr. Frank J. Schwab

New York, NY

Once the incision is completely dry, and the sutures have been removed your surgeon may permit a full bath (approximately two weeks after surgery). Before this, you can sponge bathe, or if your surgeon permits it, you can shower with a bandage covering the incision.

Dr. Patrick Bosch

Albuquerque, NM

Wound healing is usually advanced enough by 2 weeks to allow bathing. Submerging the incision prior to complete wound healing risks tissue infection.

Dr. Thomas G. Lowe

Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.

I generally let patients take a bath after approximately three weeks. Prior to the three weeks, their bathing is limited to showers.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

  • Published: June 20, 2002
  • Updated: April 19, 2010