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Suture Care

Suture Care Introduction

Patient Comments

Sutures, or stitches, are the most commonly used method to repair a cut or wound. Other methods used to treat wounds are skin adhesives or glue, Steri-Strips or butterfly bandages, staples or even leaving skin wounds open (unsutured) to heal without closure in some cases (this is termed “healing by secondary intention”).

Sometimes, a very contaminated or dirty wound is left alone for a few days with a plan to repair it with loose stitches later to prevent capturing contaminating pathogens in and underneath the sutures. These delayed methods of closing a wound are performed only after thorough irrigation, or washing, of the laceration and exploration and removal of any foreign debris or dirt. When applicable, sutures are used to close the wound. Suture material is classified as absorbable or nonabsorbable. Absorbable sutures dissolve over time. Nonabsorbable sutures need to be removed within a time specified by the doctor (usually 5 to10 days, depending on the location and type of wound).

Suture Home Care

Nonabsorbable suture care is similar, regardless of the type of suture; absorbable types require time to be absorbed but otherwise share similar care.

  • First, keep the wound clean and as dry as possible. Do not immerse or soak the wound in water. This means no swimming, washing dishes (unless thick rubber gloves are used), baths, or hot tubs until the stitches are removed or after about two weeks if absorbable suture material was used.
  • Leave original bandages on the wound for the first 24 hours. After this time, showering or rinsing is recommended, rather than bathing.
  • After the first day, remove old bandages and gently cleanse the wound with soap and water. Cleansing twice a day prevents buildup of debris and will result in easier suture removal.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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