Sitches and Lacerations

Getting Stitches?

Sutures (or stitches) are the most common method used by doctors to close up a laceration. Doctors use non-dissolvable stitches made of nylon or polypropylene material to close the outer layer of wounds, while dissolvable sutures made of polyglycolic and polygalactic acid are used to close deeper layers of skin and tissue. The dissolvable sutures are slowly absorbed by the body over a period of up to three months and as a result require no removal.

Sitches and Lacerations

When Stitches Might Not Be Appropriate

While stitches might be the most popular choice for closing lacerations, other options might be better in certain cases. On the scalp, for example, stitches are either difficult or impossible to use, depending on the area. In this case, a doctor might use staples to close a deep laceration.

Skin glue might also be an option, especially in smaller lacerations or on lacerations located in areas where there’s no tension. Joints, for example, have a lot of tension because they need to bend and move constantly, so glue might not work and stitches might be needed instead. But a not-so-deep laceration on the bicep, for example, could be closed with glue.

Removal of Stitches

If you or your child has had stitches, your doctor will tell you when and how they need to be removed. Most sutures are removed within 10 days and as soon as five days in areas like the face, where the blood supply is rich – which makes healing faster. The longer the sutures are left in, the higher the risk of scarring, so doctors typically try to remove stitches as soon as possible.

However, keep in mind that the main goal of sutures is to help your wound heal, so if they need to stay in place for a longer period of time your doctor might choose to do that.

Sutures are easy to remove with surgical scissors. After the stitches have been removed, your doctor will examine the wound to ensure it’s healing properly and properly closed.

Although you might be tempted to remove the stitches at home, it’s safer to go back to your doctor for this. It’s easy to re-injure the area – or even cause an infection — if you’re not careful. This will result in a feeling of general illness, and may require antibiotics for you to get well.

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