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Removing Stitches (cont.)

Complications of Removing Stitches

  • Wound infection: If signs of infection begin, such as redness, increasing pain, swelling, and fever, contact a doctor immediately.
  • Wound reopening: If sutures are removed too early, or if excessive force is applied to the wound area, the wound can reopen. The doctor may restitch the wound or allow the wound to close by itself naturally to lessen the chances of infection.
  • Excessive scarring: All wounds will form a scar, and it will take months for a scar to completely contract and remodel to its permanent form. However, scarring may be excessive when sutures are not removed promptly or left in place for a prolonged period of time. This may result in a scar with the appearance of a "railroad track."
  • Keloid formation: A keloid is a large, firm mass of scarlike tissue. This scarring extends beyond the original wound and tends to be darker than the normal skin. Keloids are common in wounds over the ears, waist, arms, elbows, shoulders, and especially the chest.
    • Keloids occur when the body overreacts when forming a scar. They are common in African Americans and in anyone with a history of producing keloids. People with a tendency to form keloids should be closely monitored by the doctor. Injection of anti-inflammatory agents may decrease keloid formation. Also, large keloids can be removed, and a graft can be used to close the wound.
  • Hypertrophic scars: Bulky scars can remain within the boundaries of the original wound. These occur mostly around joints. Hypertrophic scars tend to develop a peak size and then get smaller over months to years. Keloids, on the other hand, rarely go away. For people with hypertrophic scars, a firm pressure dressing may aid in preventing them from forming.

Pictures of Stitches

Close-up of sutures of the ring finger.
Close-up of sutures of the ring finger. Click to view larger image.

Stapled surgical wound of the left leg of a 46-year-old woman who underwent femoral artery bypass surgery. Staples were used to close the wound after the operation.
Stapled surgical wound of the left leg of a 46-year-old woman who underwent femoral artery bypass surgery. Staples were used to close the wound after the operation. Click to view larger image.

Close-up of staples of a left leg surgical wound.
Close-up of staples of a left leg surgical wound. Click to view larger image.

This 26-year-old man received many cuts and bruises after falling from a 7-story window. This picture was taken 1 week after his fall. His eyebrow and neck wounds have been closed with adhesive strips.
This 26-year-old man received many cuts and bruises after falling from a 7-story window. This picture was taken 1 week after his fall. His eyebrow and neck wounds have been closed with adhesive strips. Click to view larger image.

Close-up of adhesive strips used to close the wound to the eyebrow.
Close-up of adhesive strips used to close the wound to the eyebrow. Click to view larger image.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCES:

MedscapeReference.com. Suturing Techniques.

MedicineNet.com. Stitches.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/2/2016
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