Stitches are used after many different types of operations to close wounds or cuts. Although stitches are common, they still require special medical care. If you decide to remove your stitches on your own, you can take a lot of risks. Most doctors prefer to remove your stitches themselves.
How do you know you need stitches?
If you are not a doctor, it is not easy to know if you need to suture the wound. We usually only turn to a doctor when we have deep wounds with massive bleeding. Below we describe a few cases where stitches are usually used:
- The wound is deep, has jagged edges or opens.
- The wound is on the face or other part of the body where the scars can cause problems.
- The wound bleeds massively without stopping even after twenty minutes of direct pressure.
- You feel numb.
- The wound is located on the hand or limb, which does not work properly after cutting.
If any of these criteria apply to your injury, see a doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, apply direct pressure to help control the bleeding. If possible, it can also help to raise the injured area above your heart level.
Why have your stitches removed by a doctor?
If your doctor removes your sutures, he also monitors you for signs of infection, whether your wound heals well and is closed (which is why it was sutured in the first place). The doctor will also know when it's time to remove the stitches. If the stitches are removed too soon, the wound may open again, which may cause an infection or a bad scar. In general, if the wound is red or the area around it is swollen, then the time to remove the stitches have not yet come.
Absorbable and non-absorbable sutures
TIP : Usually larger scars remain after absorbable stitches than on non-absorbable ones. So if you can choose, choose non-absorbable stitches.
Absorbable sutures are used to close wounds or surgical incisions, usually inside the body. Some wounds or incisions are closed with a combination of absorbable sutures below the surface and non-absorbable sutures at the top. Non-absorbable sutures are considered in the body as foreign objects that do not belong to the body. Therefore, the immune system can sometimes defend itself against sutures – for example, with inflammatory reactions. Due to the fact that larger scars remain when using absorbable stitches than on non-absorbable ones, they are used internally.
When is the time to pull the stitches?
It depends on many factors: how much tension there is on the skin, whether the patient is a smoker and the patient's age, and health is also important. Some patients use catabolic steroids that enlarge their muscles but increase the fragility of the skin. Infections can occur in the wound or heal more slowly – all of which affects in how long your stitches can be pulled out.
However, it is generally considered that the amount of time needed for the stitches is:
- Face (including lips, eyelids, nose): 5 to 7 days.
- Skull: 6 to 8 days.
- Chest and abdomen: 8 to 10 days.
- Ear: 10 to 14 days.
- Back, arms and legs: 7 to 14 days.
- Other areas: 7 to 21 days.
When will the stitches be absorbed?
Absorbable stitches disintegrate and disappear on their own, there is no need to take care of them. The time this process takes is affected by several factors:
- the surgical procedure or type of closed wound,
- the type of stitch used to close the incision or wound,
- type of stitch material,
- the size of the stitch used.
This time frame can range from a few days to one or two weeks or even several months. For example, wisdom tooth removal may require absorbable sutures that dissolve within a few weeks.
How are stitches removed?
Non-absorbable sutures must be removed. They will not dissolve, as with absorbable sutures. The process of removing non-absorbable seams is relatively simple. You need sharp scissors that are sterilized. Also, the area around the stitches must be properly washed. The doctor cuts the stitches at the site of the knot and then gently pulls them out.
Can we remove the stitches at home?
But many people may choose to pull the stitches themselves. This decision can be a risk, but for many of us it is more convenient than visiting the doctor’s office. So when you decide to remove the stitches yourself, keep a few things in mind.
- The wound is completely healed: if you remove the stitches too soon, the wound may reopen. An infection or a worse-looking scar may also occur.
- Use sterile equipment: scissors, tweezers, cotton swabs and bandages must be sterile to prevent the infection from spreading.
- If you notice anything unusual with your stitches, seek medical attention.
How to take care of the skin after removing the stitches?
After removing the stitches, you will already have a healed scar, however, it is still necessary not to over stretch it too much. If possible, keep the scar clean and dry. You should also protect it from direct sunlight, as the skin around the scar and the scar itself are very sensitive and could burn much faster than other parts of your skin.
For faster healing
If you want the scar to be healed, you can regularly smear cream with added vitamin E on the scar. Vitamin E is important for our skin, it accelerates healing and reduces scarring. Talk to your doctor before using this alternative treatment. It also depends a lot on where your scar is. Maybe your doctor will offer you a suitable ointment.
After removing the stitches, check your skin regularly. If you have stitches (or if they have already been removed) and you notice redness, swelling or pain in the area of the scar, consult your doctor immediately. You may have an infection that should be treated as soon as possible.