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I had a parathyroid tumor removed three weeks ago. I feel fine, but my surgical site is concerning me. At the incision site, the skin is red and bumpy, and feels hard. There isn't much swelling, and it doesn't hurt, but it really doesn't look good. What can I do?

Deva Boone
Answer authored by Deva Boone
Deva Boone, MD is the founder of the Southwest Parathyroid Center. As one of the most experienced parathyroid surgeons in the U.S., she has treated thousands of patients with parathyroid conditions.

When my patients report this to me, the first thing I do is ask them to send me a photo. This is the best way for me to assess it (other than seeing it in person). Before I would make any conclusions about your incision, I would want to see a picture. 

Having said that, though, what you are describing sounds normal. In the weeks after surgery, the incision tends to look red (at the incision line) and tends to be somewhat hard and bumpy. The redness will usually resolve in the coming months. By a year out, the incision will often fade to a thin white line. As for the bumpiness and hardness, some of it may be due to the sutures under your skin that are still disolving. And some of it is just what happens in normal healing. Tissues tend to swell up a little and get firmer after the “injury” of surgery. The swelling will go down over a few days, but the normal healing process continues for months. Although it may not look like much is happening, there are a lot of things changing in a surgical wound for up to 8 months. During this time, the wound may feel a little tighter at times, then loosen up. It is likely that in the coming months, your incision will get softer and the bumpiness will flatten out. 

There are things that would be concerning in and around an incision: redness spreading out around the incision, increasing pain and tenderness, and increasing swelling. These are concerning for infection. This would generally occur within a week after surgery. 

If you are very concerned about your incision, you can always call your surgeon. 

Postop expectations