I have been a nurse for approximately 2 years. Prior to this, I worked as a Hospice Aide. I have worked in healthcare for 20 years. When I find something that works I praise it. Wound Vacs work.
I recently became familiar with wound vacs working on a Subacute Wing. (Subacute focuses upon care right after a serious illness or injury, it is short-term and is used when you still need antibiotics or physical therapy while recovering).
A client of mine had a wound that was not healing after the removal of a colostomy. (A Colostomy is a surgical opening from the colon through the abdominal wall to the outside of the body to allow waste to exit). This wound was not healing with the traditional methods. It just got bigger and deeper.
The Doctor ordered a wound vac. This was the first time I was introduced to such a device.
KCI Wound Vac
Demonstration of Wound Vac
I'll admit that I was a bit intimidated by this treatment. I was working with a wound that was 5cm deep and 4cm in width and 8cm length.
However, applying the wound vac is easier than I thought. One of the most important steps I found is to make sure to use the saline solution to wet the foam away from the skin before removing it, otherwise you may destroy new tissue as well as cause the patient unnecessary pain. So, if the client has pain medication, make sure to administer medication at least one hour prior to this treatment.
Make sure to use the skin prep to protect the underlying skin. You can cut the foam and skin stick to the size needed. I find that by cutting the frame pieces smaller, you do not compromise the surrounding areas of skin. You only need to frame the wound to achieve ultimate suction.
How It Works
The wound vac uses negative pressure to close the wound and promote healing. The suction of the vacuum draws blood to the area which aides in the healing process.The wound vac encourages cells to replenish therefore making new healthy cells to heal the wound.
Caring for someone at home with a wound vac requires a Licensed Personnel to come into the home and change the dressings per Doctors Orders. Usually 3 times weekly. However, classes and instruction are offered through KCI Wound Vac and if Doctor approved, family or caregivers may be able to do therapy for client.
Patients may either wear the pump in a portable mini-pack or use a larger, stationary unit. Of course the advantage is that the portable system allows for independence while providing continuous wound therapy.
KCI Wound Vac Direct Link
Cost of Wound Vac
The cost of a wound vac is quite expensive, about $150.00 a day. However, Wound Vacs are eligible for Medicare reimbursement. Also, some insurance plans do cover wound vacs as a valid therapy. As with any costly therapy, consult your Healthcare Insurance prior to beginning.
Wound Therapy has come a long way, I encourage you as a patient to ask your Doctor about wound vacs or if you are a medical specialist, prepare yourself by taking an in-service on such as they are becoming more the norm of treatment and you are sure to work with one in the future.
PA on February 18, 2017:
After a year of trying to heal an inner thigh leg wound with dressings & packing, I'm having my first experience with a wound vac and home health nurses. I was petrified to get it started (mostly because I read some horror stories on the web), but I had minimal pain during regular dressing changes and all agreed I'd do well with a wound vac. What I've found is: 1) as long as they saturate the foam first, then removing it will have some ouch spots but, for me, they are gone quick, 2) Replacing the foam during the new dressing change has some ouch moments but goes away once they move on to the next step, 3} when they turn the suction on, for me, it feels like a slight intake of air and I haven't had any pain during that. I do notice that this last application visit, that my wound burns a bit BUT every change can be a little different because of , hopefully, the wound changing for the better. My wound changed to half its size in less than a week ( and before wound vac it had stopped healing, been labeled chronic and just "was there". I did find out, right before the wound vac was started, that I am allergic to "skin prep". It's something that alot of health care procedures use to hold tape down. So, always get a pack of it and, if possible, a piece of the "drape", the clear material that holds and seals the wound vac area, then place these on your inner arm for 24 hours to make sure you're not allergic. The ONLY things that bug me are the weight of the KCI wound vac and, for my particular leg wound, a mile of tubing that drives me nuts, lol. Ok, it's not a mile but when start getting tangled or have to get to the bathroom quick in the night, it seems like a mile. The only real thing I wish, is that I'd been able to use the wound vac before.
Everyone's experience is different but I was ready to deal with my fears and luckily it's mostly positive. Just don't be afraid to talk to your health care provider and together figure out a solution to the problem.
I wish everyone the best with their therapy.
Monie on August 20, 2014:
I used the wound vac for approximately 2 weeks on my foot. I had a negative reaction to the adhesive causing great discomfort in the surrounding skin tissue. Even with the recommended applications it was very abrasive to the surrounding tissue. I now have extensive adhesions. the company also required purchase of more supplies than was necessary and of course even the unopened boxes could not be returned, Overall poor experience.
Christine Smith on May 30, 2013:
Yes. They work extremely well. Also, don't be at all inintimidated by the electronics, because once the nurse sets it all up and once it get going there is really nothing you need to do. It will be almost like it's not even there. If you are needed a more portable type system, they are available as well. Once, it's on it will stay with you and do incredible work at healing your wound. My husband had a second chace at using one, and they are so effective at healing. It helped speed up the heeling time by almost half! You will also have an 800 number to call in case you need to. The nurse will come to your home in most cases, and immediately get you back on track again. I would recommend it to anyone who is in the situation required a wound which requires long healing time. This device is amazing!!