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Removing Stitches (cont.)

Removing Stitches Preparation

If a person has received stitches, they should be given instructions for taking care of the stitches and wound, and be given an approximate date to have the stitches removed. A sample of such instructions is as follows:

  • Keep wound clean and dry for the first 24 hours.
  • Showering is allowed after 48 hours, but do not soak the wound.
  • Bandages can safely be removed from the wound after 48 hours, unless the wound continues to bleed or has a discharge. If bandages are kept in place and get wet, the wet bandage should be replaced with a clean dry bandage.
  • An antibiotic ointment (brand names are Polysporin or Neosporin, for example) should be used after the wound is cleaned.
  • Notify the doctor if a suture loosens or breaks.
  • When scheduled to have the stitches removed, be sure to make an appointment with a person qualified to remove the stitches.

Different parts of the body require suture removal at varying times. Common periods of time for removal are as follows, but times vary according to the health care professionals that perform the procedure:

  • Face:  3-5 days
  • Scalp: 7-10 days
  • Trunk: 7-10 days
  • Arms and legs: 10-14 days
  • Joints: 14 days

Sutures may be taken out all at one visit, or sometimes, they may be taken out over a period of days if the wound requires it.

During Removing Stitches Procedure

  • The wound is cleaned with an antiseptic to remove encrusted blood and loosened scar tissue.
  • Sterile forceps (tongs or pincers) are used to pick up the knot of each suture, and then surgical scissors or a small knife blade is used to cut the suture. Forceps are used to remove the loosened suture and pull the thread from the skin.
  • These relatively painless steps are continued until the sutures have all been removed. You may feel a tug or slight pull as a stitch is removed.
  • The wound is cleansed again.
  • Adhesive strips are often placed over the wound to allow the wound to continue strengthening.

Removing staples

  • Staple removal is also a simple procedure and is similar to suture removal. Doctors use a special instrument called a staple remover.
  • After cleansing the wound, the doctor will gently back out each staple with the remover. The doctor applies pressure to the handle, which bends the staple, causing it to straighten the ends of the staple so that it can easily be removed from the skin. The staple backs out of the skin the very same direction in which it was placed. People may feel a pinch or slight pull.
  • The process is repeated until all staples are removed. The wound is cleansed a second time, and adhesive strips are applied. This is also a relatively painless procedure.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/2/2016
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