- This topic covers common questions about sutures (stitches).
Suture Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (or staples) should be removed:
- Face: 4-5 days
- Neck: 7 days
- Scalp: 7-10 days
- Chest, abdomen, and back: 7-10 days
- Arms and back of hands: 7 days
- Legs and top of feet: 10 days
- Fingers and toes: 10-14 days
- Palms and soles: 12-14 days
- Overlying a joint: 12-14 days
Numbness of Skin Near a Laceration
- Local Anesthesia - Duration of Action: Duration of numbness from local anesthesia depends on what type of local anesthesia was used. Numbness can last from 1 to 8 hours.
- Numbness from the laceration itself: Some people report a small area of numbness right along the edges of the sutured wound. This can last 1 to 3 weeks.
- Nerve injury:. Sometimes a cut can be deep enough that it cuts an important nerve. This should be suspected if the area of numbness extends beyond just the edges of the wound and lasts more than 8 hours. An example of this would be a digital nerve injury of the finger; a person with this injury might notice some persisting numbness of one side of the finger. If you think that you have a nerve injury, you should call your doctor.
See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If
Should I Call?
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- You feel weak or very sick
- A major surgical wound is starting to open up
- Bleeding that won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Suture came out early and wound has re-opened
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
- You think you need to be seen
- Suture came out early and wound is still closed
- Suture removal is overdue
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
- Numbness extends beyond the wound edges and lasts over 8 hours
Self Care at Home If
- Sutured wound with no complications and you don't think you need to be seen
Care at Home
HOME CARE ADVICE
General Care for the Sutured or Stapled Wound
- Suture Care for a normal sutured wound:
- Can get wound wet (e.g., bathing or swimming) after 24 hours.
- Apply antibiotic ointment 3 times a day (Reason: to prevent infection and a thick scab).
- Cleanse with warm water once daily or if it becomes soiled.
- Change wound dressing when wet or soiled.
- A dressing is no longer needed when edge of wound closed (usually 48 hours)
- EXCEPTION: dressing needed to prevent sutures from catching on clothing.
- Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) or staples should be removed:
- Face 4-5 days
- Neck 7 days
- Scalp 7-10 days
- Chest or abdomen 7-10 days
- Arms and back of hands 7-10 days
- Legs and top of feet 10 days
- Back 10 days
- Palms and soles 12-14 days
- Overlying a joint 12-14 days
- Removal Delays: Do not miss your appointment for removing stitches. Stitches removed late can leave unnecessary skin marks and occasionally cause scarring. Delays also makes suture removal more difficult.
- Suture Out Early: If the sutures come out early, reinforce the wound with tape or butterfly Band-Aids until the office visit
- Wound Protection: After removal of sutures:
- Protect the wound from injury during the following month.
- Avoid sports that could re-injure the wound. If a sport is essential, apply tape before playing.
- Allow the scab to fall off on its own. Do not try to remove it.
- Pain Medicines:
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Looks infected
- Sutures come out early
- You become worse
- Preventing Scarring:
Some people are more prone to scarring than others.
And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
Wound Infection - Suture Site
There is a pimple where a stitch comes through the skin. The pimple suggests a low-grade infection.
Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 11/18/2011
Last Revised: 11/18/2011
Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Portions Copyright 2000-2012 Self Care Decisions LLC; Copyright LMS, Inc.