What Is Involved in Suture Removal?

Christina Edwards

Suture removal is a very simple procedure, and it is typically done with a suture removal kit. First, tweezers are used to pull the sutures away from the skin. The sutures are then cut with a small pair of scissors, and the tweezers are used to remove this completely. A doctor should usually perform a suture removal, but it can also be done at home, if necessary. When sutures need to be removed depends on a few factors.

Equipment used to place and remove sutures.
Equipment used to place and remove sutures.

A suture removal kit is typically used to remove sutures in most hospitals. This is a sealed kit that contains a couple sterile tools. Generally, there are tweezers and a very small pair of scissors in these kits. In some cases, such as when the sutures have started to grow into the skin, a scalpel may be more useful for cutting the sutures. If a suture removal kit is unavailable, tweezers and scissors should be soaked in alcohol before removing any sutures.

Sutures are typically knotted to help keep a wound closed.
Sutures are typically knotted to help keep a wound closed.

Sutures are typically knotted to help keep a wound closed. The ends of a suture are usually kept a bit long. This makes it easier to grasp the suture with tweezers.

If a suture removal kit is unavailable, tweezers and scissors should be soaked in alcohol before removing any sutures.
If a suture removal kit is unavailable, tweezers and scissors should be soaked in alcohol before removing any sutures.

Pulling on the sutures will create a space between them and the skin. This space allows the doctor to cut a suture. Most medical professionals will agree that a suture should be cut close to the knot, but not directly through it.

Once a wound has healed, sutures are removed.
Once a wound has healed, sutures are removed.

If possible, a cut suture should be grasped by the knot with the tweezers. The tweezers can then be used to gently, but firmly, tug on a suture to remove it. Suture knots should never be yanked through the skin, however, since this could cause tissue damage, scarring, or infection. This whole process is repeated for each suture that needs to be removed.

Suture removal is typically a painless procedure. Patients may feel some pinching as the stitches are being removed, but this is generally a mild discomfort. Some patients may bleed a little after a suture removal, but this is considered normal. A small bandage is usually all that is needed to help stop the bleeding. If serious bleeding occurs, more sutures may need to be put in.

Non-dissolving stitches on the face are typically left in for a short amount of time, usually no more than five days. The face typically heals more quickly than other areas of the body, and leaving the sutures in too long could cause scarring. Sutures on other areas of the body are typically left in anywhere from seven to 14 days. Sutures around joints are typically left in the longest, since the wound could reopen as the skin in the area moves and stretches.

Sutures are usually removed 7 to 14 days after stitching.
Sutures are usually removed 7 to 14 days after stitching.

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