Your operation was a success! That’s good. You can’t wait to get back to your daily activities—and you’d really love a nice shower.

Uh-uh, warns your doctor—can’t get those stitches wet. You’ve got to wait until the stitches are removed. That’s a lot of sponge baths for the next few weeks.

Fortunately, the advice may change soon, thanks to some resourceful researchers in Taiwan. Using 444 patients who had wounds that were at low risk for infection after various kinds of surgery, they allowed half to resume showering 48 hours after their operations. The other half followed traditional post-op care to keep their wounds dry.

Result: Within two weeks of their surgeries, 10 patients developed minor infections—four in the shower group and six in the no-shower group. Pain scores were equal between the two groups.

What wasn’t equal: Compared to the no-shower group, the free-to-wash folks were a lot happier with their care.

So if an operation is in your future, ask your doctor if, once the 48-hour after-surgery window is up, you can toss in the sponge—and take a shower instead!