Archive for the ‘Surgery’ Category

My Brown Recluse Spider Bite - Photos of Treatments and the Healing Process

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY PHOTOS or feel free read my story below. Not all cases are as severe as mine, but I hope this site informs you nevertheless.

What Happened?

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider while working outside at a home improvement store in Kentucky. I didn’t feel the actual bite, but I specifically remember noticing several brown recluse spiders that day around my work area. Before I left work, the area was already extremely irritated, swollen and became itchy and hot to the touch. The spider bit me on my right side, just above my waist-line. From day-2 of the bite up until I completely healed, I took pictures of all of the surgeries and healing process.

Surgery #1

I went to the doctor the same night and was told it may be a spider bite but it may not, so they decided not to treat it since the known treatment, Nitroglycerin patches, was known to cause headaches. The following day, a blister formed and the area hurt worse. I went back to the hospital and was given the Nitroglycerin patches to apply over the growing blister. These didn’t help much and were painful to remove from the blister. I went back a day later and was rushed into surgery to remove the dead tissue.

Surgery #2

As you can see in the photos, the first surgery obviously didn’t remove enough of the dead tissue so I had to go back and get another large hunk removed. Because the area of removed tissue was so large, caring for the wound was the worst part of the whole experience. I was lucky to have great in-house nurses that helped clean and re-bandage the wound every day until I began using the Wound Vac.

Healing With the Wound Vac:

I opted to use the V.A.C.® Therapy System, or “Wound Vac”, instead of a skin graft surgery because of less pain and no second scar from a skin graft. Using the Wound Vac was an odd experience because I had to wear it 24/7 for a month. You wear it like a purse and it makes sucking sounds while it removes fluid from the wound site from a long clear tube that flows into the canister in the Vac. Sounds pretty gross but it actually made wearing the thing quite humorous. The results were surprising - it healed extremely fast and wasn’t painful to use. It would have been hard for me to change out the Vac dressings by myself, but again, that’s where good in-house nurses really helped.


Although I did seek treatment right away, the first diagnosis resulted in no treatment because of two reasons: (1) diagnosing a brown recluse spider bite is difficult in the early stages and (2) the doctor didn’t want me to suffer any possible side effects of treatment if it were in fact the wrong diagnosis. If I had that to do over again, I would have insisted on ANY type of treatment right away, regardless of any possible minor side effects.

Also, these photos taken after the first surgery clearly show the surgeon did not remove enough dead tissue in the first round. This allowed more time for additional tissue to die, and as a result, I had to have more removed. If I had to do this part over again, I would have also insisted all of the dead tissue be removed at once. On top of that, if this would have happened on the 1st or 2nd day, my scar might be about the size of a quarter instead of a credit card.

My Advice:

If you are showing signs of what looks like a bad reaction to a brown recluse bite, I would pack the area with ice and go to the hospital right away. While there is no standard treatment, it’s better to get whatever recommended treatment there is at the time and to get it fast.

Some Good Resources on Brown Recluse Spider Bites: