Caring For Sutures (Stitches)
So your surgery is over and you've been sent home with sutures. Be prepared
to handle the site with care. These sutures will be with you for at least a few
days, depending on your situation and the area of the body that's affected. It's
extremely important that you follow all your surgeon's instructions on how to
care for the site to ensure proper healing and minimal scarring.
Here's How To
Ensure Proper Healing:
- Avoid water or other moisture the first 24 hours
- After that time has passed, you can begin washing it
with soap and water (very gently), up to two times per day
- Your surgeon can prescribe an antibiotic ointment.
You will want to apply this to the site after washing.
- You will need
to have your sutures removed on the day designated by your surgeon. It's very
important that you adhere to this, because leaving the sutures in longer than
needed can cause unnecessary scarring.
What To Watch For:
- Redness that goes beyond the basic edge of the wound
- Fever over 100 degrees (sign of an infection)
- Any unusual coloring or discharge, including pus
- Unusual tenderness or swelling. Remember, you will
experience the most tenderness in the second day, but it should subside each
day thereafter. If there is any indication that this is not happening, contact
- Stitches that come
out sooner than expected. If this happens, contact your doctor immediately.
after you have your stitches removed, it's crucial to care for the site with an
ointment or cream that your surgeon can recommend. Protect the site from any
unnecessary injury for at least four weeks following stitch removal.
If you have
stitches that dissolve, make sure you understand exactly when they should
dissolve and how to care for the site during and after that period.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic, Department of Plastic Surgery.
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 7:06:06 AM
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, Sept. 2003.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2003.