Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

What is Negative Pressure Wound Therapy or vacuum-assisted closure of a wound?

Vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) is a method of decreasing air pressure around a wound to assist the healing. It is also referred to as negative pressure wound therapy or wound vac.

A wound vacuum system may help your wound heal more quickly by:

  • Draining excess fluid from the wound
  • Reducing swelling
  • Reducing bacteria in the wound
  • Keeping your wound moist and warm
  • Helping draw together wound edges
  • Increasing blood flow to your wound
  • Decreasing redness and swelling (inflammation)

What happens during vacuum-assisted closure of a wound?

  • A healthcare provider will cover your wound with a foam or gauze wound dressing. An adhesive film will be put over the dressing and wound. This seals the wound. The foam connects to a drainage tube, which leads to a vacuum pump. This pump is portable. When the pump is turned on, it draws fluid through the foam and out the drainage tubing. The pump may run all the time, or it may cycle off and on.

In most cases, the dressing should be changed 2 to 3 times a week. If the wound is infected, the dressing may need to be changed more often. Who changes it? In most cases, the dressing will be changed by a nurse from your doctor’s office or a home health service. It is important that you do not change the settings on your VAC unless instructed to do so by your doctor or nurse.

You will likely need to use the wound VAC system for several weeks or months. During the therapy, you will need to carry the portable pump everywhere you go.

How does VAC Therapy feel?

Most patients describe VAC Therapy as a non-painful, mild pulling sensation that, in most cases, is not noticeable after a few minutes. Wound comfort may vary by individual person. The wound may become tender or itch as it heals; this is usually a good sign. If itching or discomfort persists, please contact your doctor.

If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

  • fever
  • bleeding around the wound
  • rash around your wound
  • dizziness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • if there is blood or blood clots in the tubing or collection chamber of the device

What happens after vacuum-assisted closure of a wound?

Follow up with your healthcare provider if you have a health condition that led to your wound, such as diabetes. He or she can help you prevent future wounds.