Background: Human and animal laboratory studies have shown that stress delays healing of standardized punch biopsy wounds.Purpose: This 5-week prospective study of 17 women who underwent elective gastric bypass surgery addressed the association between postsurgical pain intensity and subsequent healing of a standard 2.0-mm punch biopsy wound.Methods: Participants were assessed 1 week before surgery, within 3 hr before surgery, 1 to 3 days postsurgery, and at weekly intervals for 4 weeks following surgery.Results: Patient ratings of greater acute postsurgical pain, averaged over Days 1 and 2 postsurgery, and greater persistent postsurgical pain, averaged over 4 weekly postsurgery pain ratings, were significantly associated with subsequent delayed healing of the punch biopsy wound. Presence of depressive symptoms on the day of surgery, pre-existing persistent pain, and medical complications following initial discharge from the hospital were not related to wound healing. Depressive symptoms on the day of surgery and pre-existing persistent pain did predict persistent postsurgical pain intensity.Conclusions: These findings extend the previous laboratory models of wound healing to a surgical population, providing the first evidence that pain plays an important role in postsurgery wound healing, a key variable in postsurgical recovery.
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