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Harriett D. Caregiver

Sterile dressing changes

How long does it typically take to do this process correctly?  I have different nurses telling me different procedure steps!  I’m so frustrated!  How many times must you have completed the correct sterile protocol before you can be released from the hospital?

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Mike D.

Hi Harriet 

The process can be overwhelming at first but becomes easier as time goes on. My husband's LVAD team went over the procedure with me a couple times  and left it to me when I felt comfortable on my own.  It only takes a five or 10 minutes to change dressing. just celebrated 1year LVAD surgery and is doing well. We change his dressing about every 5 days. All materials are mailed to us directly. Best of luck to you!

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In reply to by Mike D.

Kristine F.


My husband just came home this past Monday after having an LVAD implanted on 3/7. I'm getting used to changing his dressing but worry I'm not doing it quite right. Instructions aren't perfect as his driveline in stitched onto his skin in several places. Stitches are supposed to come out on 5/13, so hopefully that will make it easier. My question to you - how long was it before you could go to weekly dressing changes and is it a smaller dressing after awhile?

Thanks so much!

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In reply to by Kristine F.

Diane B.

Hi Kristine

It will be some time before you will stop doing daily dressing change. You need to follow the protocol from your VAD Center. My husband had his surgery 19 months ago. We do it every 3 to 4 days but he is healed and his skin is very, very sensitive and we can only use certain products and he does better spreading it out. Take heart it will get easier and you will be able to do the dressing much faster once the stitches are out. As far as a smaller dressing, you will need to follow the lead of VAD Coordinator who knows your particular circumstances. We do a 4”X 5” dressing because of allergic reaction, so it is possible but it was a year to progress to that for us.  Don’t be afraid to reach out.

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In reply to by Kristine F.

Juanita P.

Hello Kristine, let me be positive about this.  I still have stitches right around the entrance of driveline.  These stitches have been there for 5.5 years.  The hospital kept those in because stated would make closing more secure...doesn't bother me now at all.  As far as the dressings, keep at it.  My daughter did my dressing coming home couple weeks.  But because she is a paramedic, and she has a busy schedule, I said I need to learn.  So I found a comfortable spot level to the site, put sterile gloves, on etc, and went for it.  Now I am a pro... But, I might add on a positive note it took couple dressings, but perfected and you will get it.  Just make sure you are sterile, clean hands, mask etc.  Never quick start that.  Always protect yourself.



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Diane B.

Hi Harriett 

The answer will vary. I see Mike says 5 to 10 minutes, but with the technique I was taught beginning to end closer to 45 minutes using sterile technique. Our center has us do it everyday but my husband has extremely sensitive skin and allergic to most tapes so I go slower and now we are testing every other day to lessen skin irritation. . Your LVAD coordinator should be able to answer your questions. If it is ward nurses I would take it with a grain of salt if it is not what LVAD team showed you. You want to be totally sure you know the proper procedure because you do not want to get a driveline infection. Are you doing the dressings yourself yet with nurse supervising?

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Harriett D.

Yes it was floor nurses.  Thank heaven I have it now and I’m comfortable.  LVAD coordinator’s reply to this question was the floor nurses should be doing the same way each time!  The directions that are enclosed with the sterile dressing kit was helpful.  Especially with a nurse who seemed to have her own ideas.  Once I pointed out the enclosed directions she agreed & backed off.  

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In reply to by Harriett D.

Diane B.

Unfortunately there is always 1 or 2 that buck the system. Glad you have a handle on it. It can be pretty scary the first few days at home. The main thing is not to panic and follow the instructions. You will be a pro in no time at all. Never hesitate to call VAD Coordinator if necessary. Good luck !


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Tawanda C.

Hello everyone, 

My name is Tawanda and I am 36 years old. I’ve been living with a pacemaker for 3 years, I’ve been shocked by it about 4 or 5 times. I am scheduled to get the LVAD September 30,2021 and I am scared out of my mind. I have heard some people with the LVAD talking about fainting or blacking out. Has anyone experienced that?? And does anyone still drive themselves after getting the LVAD? And lastly does anyone live alone?

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In reply to by Tawanda C.

Juanita P.

Hello Tawanda, welcome to the LVAD world.  I'm sorry to hear of the shock with pacer.  I haven't, thank God, experienced that yet.  I have a biventricular.  That is something I have not experienced.  Lighthead?  Yes on one instance.  I'm very sensitive to numerous meds, only on one baby dose because all I can handle.  Our goal was to increase the EF (ejection fraction) so weeeeeeeeeee, the team and I, agreed to add another med.  That did make me light head about 3 weeks in.  Please make sure you advise your team of nurses, dr.s etc...and make sure your hydrated as well.  The #'s will also give indication of things going on, #'s on controller that is.  When I got light headed I also checked my INR, if you have a home monitor.  You are way too young for this, and I pray that you get well and feel good soon.  


Juanita, your positive member!! 

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In reply to by Tawanda C.

Irving Mark H.

I got mine Sept 17 2021,  I did not have any issues, but the doctor were all in agreement that I only 2 months to live, even though I was walking an average of 1 hour a day and feeling good.  So anyway, I had never been shock by my pace maker.  Also, I never experienced fainting or blacking out.  After the release from the hospital, it was a very slow recovery to get back to walking any distance.  But slowly my strength returned, and now I can walk easily, ride a bike, lift weights, oh yes, go snow skiing.  Good luck to you.

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I certainly understand your fears - it is a overwhelming but has been well worth it for my husband,  He had a pacemaker and his defibrillator went off several times which was terrifying.  Since he had the LVAD implanted 11/2/2018, it has never gone off.  The first several months are rough because your body was weak and has been through very major surgery, so it would be helpful if you could ask family or friends to stop by to help you take a sponge bath etc. and do your shopping and drop off a few meals a week.  Of course, online shopping is much easier now also. The first month, we had a more complicated dressing change (due to drainage) so that would also be great of a caregiver could be trained.  After that first month, my husband was able to do the dressing change but it is faster when I do it.   

Best wishes for a very success surgery.  We are VERY grateful for the life the LVAD has provided - very close to normal.

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James J.


I have a BiV pacemaker/ICD. My experience after getting my LVAD May, 20, 2019 was that it was sensitive to my heart rate/tachycardia and shocked me quite a few times. I always say the right ventricle wasn’t happy with the left. It took time for the cardiologists(several) to work things out. I’m just fine two years+ out.

James Justus

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Neil W.

Hi Tawanda my name is Neil.

I've had an LVAD for about 6 months now and can say without hesitation it was worth it!

I live in my brother's basement but basically I'm alone for most of the day.It takes a little time to get use to the regular day to day routine of having an LVAD (pills,dressing all that sort of stuff) but it soon becomes second nature. 

I had a great deal of doubt before the surgery. I knew I would have to stay at a friends place for the first 3 months which made me a little uncomfortable.

But, again, it was worth it. I can now walk far further and I'm far more active than i've been in at least the last 5 years. My surgery was done at Toronto General Hospital and their pre and post surgery care was spectacular. Other than a small hiccup with fluid around my heart after surgery everything went fine.

So far I've had no issues with bleeding or infection or any real pain.Yes,  the first 3 months or so are rough but you WILL get through it and it's well worth it

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Gwenn R.

My husband has had his LVAD for 5-1/2 years. I remember the one thing that initially made me nervous was getting the sterile gloves on without contaminating them! Also, I was concerned about what to use as a table that would be high enough and could easily be sterilized with an alcohol wipe. We had a wonderful home visiting nurse who recommended using an ironing board (without the padding), which turned out to the the perfect and not expensive solution! Also, I found that the Extra-large size gloves that come with our kits to be extremely difficult to use, so I ordered smaller sized gloves from the company; the better fitting gloves makes the process so much easier. It takes about 10 minutes to do the change, but we've been doing this for some years now (I also still take out the sheet of directions because it makes me feel comfortable, even though I rarely, if ever, give it a glance any longer). Take however much time you need to feel comfortable and you'll be a pro in no time!