What causes prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery and what should I do?

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Experiencing bleeding after an injury or surgery is a common occurrence. However, in some cases, the bleeding may persist for a longer duration than expected, leading to concerns about prolonged bleeding. In this article, we will explore the causes of prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery and discuss what steps you can take to address this issue.

Understanding Prolonged Bleeding

Prolonged bleeding refers to excessive or extended bleeding that occurs after an injury or surgical procedure. While some bleeding is expected during the initial stages of wound healing, prolonged bleeding can be a sign of complications or underlying health issues.

Bleeding After Injury

When you sustain an injury, your body initiates a series of processes to stop the bleeding and promote healing. The blood vessels constrict to reduce blood flow, and platelets form a clot to seal the wound. However, certain factors can interfere with this process, leading to prolonged bleeding after an injury:

  • Anticoagulant medications: If you are taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin or warfarin, they can impede the clotting process and result in prolonged bleeding.
  • Deep wounds: Deep cuts or wounds that affect blood vessels may take longer to clot, leading to prolonged bleeding.
  • Underlying health conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand disease, can affect your body’s ability to form clots, increasing the risk of prolonged bleeding.

Bleeding After Surgery

Post-operative bleeding is another common concern, especially after invasive procedures. While some bleeding is expected immediately after surgery, persistent bleeding can indicate complications or issues that require medical attention:

  • Infection: Surgical site infections can disrupt the healing process and lead to prolonged bleeding.
  • Delayed clotting: Some individuals may have a delayed clotting response, which can result in prolonged bleeding after surgery.
  • Damage to blood vessels: During surgery, blood vessels may be inadvertently damaged, leading to excessive bleeding.
  • Medication side effects: Certain medications prescribed after surgery, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can increase the risk of bleeding.

What Should You Do?

If you are experiencing prolonged bleeding after an injury or surgery, it is crucial to take appropriate steps to address the issue and prevent further complications. Here are some measures you can take:

Apply Direct Pressure

If the bleeding is from a visible wound, apply direct pressure using a clean cloth or sterile dressing. Maintain pressure for at least 10 minutes to allow the blood to clot. Avoid peeking to check if the bleeding has stopped, as this can disrupt the clotting process.

Elevate the Injured Area

Raising the injured or surgical site above the level of your heart can help reduce blood flow to the area, potentially slowing down the bleeding. For example, if you have a bleeding leg wound, lie down and prop your leg up on a pillow.

Seek Medical Attention

If the bleeding persists or is severe, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. A healthcare professional can assess the situation, identify the underlying cause, and provide appropriate treatment. They may recommend stitches, cauterization, or other interventions to stop the bleeding.

Inform Your Healthcare Provider

If you are scheduled for surgery or have recently undergone a procedure, it is crucial to inform your healthcare provider about any bleeding concerns. They can evaluate your medical history, adjust medications if necessary, and take preventive measures to minimize the risk of excessive bleeding.

Follow Post-Operative Instructions

After surgery, your healthcare provider will provide specific instructions for wound care and recovery. It is crucial to follow these instructions diligently to promote proper healing and minimize the risk of complications, including prolonged bleeding.


Prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery can be a cause for concern, but understanding the underlying causes and taking appropriate measures can help address the issue effectively. By applying direct pressure, elevating the injured area, seeking medical attention, and following post-operative instructions, you can promote healing and reduce the risk of complications. Remember, if you are experiencing prolonged bleeding, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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