Getting Stitches (Sutures)
Caring for Stitches
The doctor or nurse will give you instructions for caring for your stitches as your cut heals. These may include specific steps for cleaning and dressing the wound. You may be advised to keep the wound and bandages dry.
Your doctor may also recommend an antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and make you aware of signs that may indicate infection. Keep an eye out for such signs, including a fever higher than 100 degrees or red streaks on the skin near the wound. And if any of your stitches pop or break, or you have any other concerns, be sure to contact your doctor.
Removal of Stitches
Stitches typically need to remain in place for several days to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity of the cut and location. Your doctor will tell you when to come back to have them taken out. Removing stitches is a much faster process than putting them in. The doctor simply clips each thread near the knot and pulls them out. You may feel a slight tugging sensation, but the removal of stitches shouldn't hurt at all. You won't even need an anesthetic.
Although removing stitches is not a difficult process, you shouldn't try to remove them yourself. It's important for your doctor to check to see that the wound is healing properly and to make sure that it's OK for the stitches to come out. The doctor may also have special instructions for you after the stitches are removed, which may help minimize scarring.
Stitches aren't the only option doctors have to close cuts and incisions. Cuts sometimes can be held together with butterfly tape or adhesive strips, which you may be able to do yourself at home for more minor cuts. There are even special staples or tissue glue, but those tend to work best with clean, straight incisions, such as in surgical procedures.
There are different criteria and care instructions for each type of closure. Your health care provider can help decide which is best for you and tell you how to care for your injury as it heals.