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What to Expect When Your Cast Comes Off

So you're getting your cast taken off — and you probably can't wait to get back to your normal life. Here's what you can expect in the coming days and weeks as your cast is taken off and your body finishes the healing process.

When Will the Cast Come Off?

The right time to take the cast off depends on what part of the body was casted and what the injury was. Your doctor can usually give you a good idea of when the cast should come off. Before taking off the cast, the doctor will check the area and may want to get an X-ray.

How Are Casts Taken Off?

The cast is taken off with a small electrical saw. The saw cuts through the cast material but stops before it touches the skin.

What Will the Area Look Like After the Cast Is Off?

When the cast is off, you may notice:

  • The skin that was under the cast looks pale, dry, or flaky.
  • The hair looks darker.
  • The muscles looks smaller.
  • The area is very smelly.

All of this is normal and goes away within a few weeks.

Do I Need to Do Anything Special After the Cast Is Off?

To help things go back to normal:

  • Wash the skin with soap and water when you get home from getting the cast off. This will help it smell better! After that, wash the area with soap and water regularly, just like you wash the rest of your body.
  • If there are any scabs from the injury, do not pick at them. Picking can lead to infection. They will heal and go away on their own.
  • Put a fragrance-free moisturizer on the skin after bathing to help with dry skin.
  • Wait 3 days before shaving the area to give your skin time to heal.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for any at-home stretching or exercises, or physical therapy. It's normal for the area to feel a little stiff and weak. Stretching and exercise will help.

Do I Need to Avoid Any Activities?

Every injury is different. So make sure you talk to your doctor about when you can:

  • go back to all regular activities
  • go back to sports

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Most teens don't have any problems after they get a cast off. But call your doctor if:

  • Your skin is red, swollen, or painful.
  • Your injured body part starts to hurt.
  • You follow your doctor's instructions but still can't use the body part normally.

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: Aug 5, 2019

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