What Is a Polypropylene Suture?

Misty Wiser

A polypropylene suture is a synthetic monofilament plastic thread used for wound closure in many surgical procedures. The material used to make the suture is resistant to colonization by bacterium. Its smooth surface texture helps prevent tissue damage from occurring as wounds are sutured closed. The suture has a very high tensile strength to prevent it from rupturing after being used for wound closure.

A polypropylene suture is a synthetic monofilament plastic thread used for wound closure in many surgical procedures.
A polypropylene suture is a synthetic monofilament plastic thread used for wound closure in many surgical procedures.

Several medical procedures make use of the polypropylene suture. Plastic surgeons use them during breast augmentations and reductions. They can be used in cardiovascular surgery and orthopedic operations, and are also gentle enough to be used in ophthalmic procedures without damaging the delicate tissue of the eye. These sutures can also be used in previously infected and possibly contaminated wounds.

Polypropylene sutures are used in many surgical procedures.
Polypropylene sutures are used in many surgical procedures.

A polypropylene suture is composed of a thermoplastic that is inert when it comes into contact with bases, acids, or solvents. Polypropylene may begin to degrade after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. The sutures should be stored in a cool dark place to extend the shelf life of the product.

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A polypropylene suture may be ordered with the needle already attached or pre-cut for specific surgical procedures.
A polypropylene suture may be ordered with the needle already attached or pre-cut for specific surgical procedures.

This synthetic suture material is colored blue for easy visibility against tissue during surgical procedures. The unique polypropylene material used in these sutures has anti-inflammatory properties to help eliminate tissue rupture. After the polypropylene suture is implanted within the body, the suture expands up to 30 percent. This prevents the tissue being stitched from strangulating if the suture tightens after placement. The additional positive blood flow may contribute to a faster healing time.

A numbing agent is typically administered before stitches are performed on a patient.
A numbing agent is typically administered before stitches are performed on a patient.

These stitches are non-absorbable and may require an office visit to remove the sutures after the wound has healed. If the suture is to remain in the body, it will eventually be encapsulated by the surrounding tissue. If there is not any residual tissue irritation from the suture remaining inside the body, the surgeon may decide that it does not need to be removed.

Stitches may be used after surgery to help with healing and prevent excessive scarring.
Stitches may be used after surgery to help with healing and prevent excessive scarring.

This product may be ordered with the needle already attached or pre-cut for specific surgical procedures. Some polypropylene sutures are designed for use with a double needle. These sutures are designed to exhibit greater knot strength than other non-synthetic sutures. The knots placed with the polypropylene sutures display greater knot security, ensuring the wound stitched with the thermoplastic suture material does not break open.

Polypropylene plastic is used to make a wide variety of products. In addition to sutures, the thermoplastic is used to make pipes for plumbing, in the manufacture of carpet, and to create transparent plastic film to preserve leftovers. A by-product of polypropylene production is used as an adhesive and caulking material.

A polypropylene suture can expand up to 30% after being placed.
A polypropylene suture can expand up to 30% after being placed.

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