To close up a surgical incision, stitches or sutures are commonly used by practising medical professionals. For this purpose, dissolvable or absorbable stitches are used by healthcare professionals as they do not require removal. The body gradually breaks them down and they vanish in a span of time.
In this article, we will see what are dissolvable stitches, how long do dissolvable stitches last and are dissolvable stitches better or not. We will also discuss how to care for them, possible complications when to visit a doctor and some related concepts.
What are dissolvable stitches?
Manufactured using special materials such as animal proteins or synthetic polymers, which the body can break down and absorb, dissolvable stitches are used to close up a wound including internal wounds.
As the body can absorb the stitches, dissolvable stitches can be taken care of at home itself and there is no need to return to a clinic or hospital for removal.
Whereas on the other hand, non-absorbable stitches consist of materials such as nylon or silk which the body cannot absorb. So, for its removal, a healthcare professional is required once the wound has healed.
Stitches, dissolvable or non-dissolvable, have three basic features:
Thickness: For simple cuts or plastic surgery, where the sound needs to heal with less scarring thin stitches are used. On the other hand, internal wounds where scarring isn’t as worrisome thicker stitches are used. More material is woven together for a thicker stitch and less material is woven together for a thin stitch.
Elasticity: If the parts of the body which require constant movement need to be stitched, the elasticity must be more. For instance stitches on the knees need to be more elastic than those on the forearm. Knees must be able to bend or without proper elasticity, the stitches can snap and come out and delayed healing and can even tear the wound.
Decomposition rate: Wounds which are deep and wide will need more time to heal as compared to lesser deep wounds.
When are dissolvable stitches used?
Depending on the size, depth, type of wound, a doctor chooses to close a wound. It also depends on the doctor’s expertise and comfort level with different closing methods.
For closing superficial wounds doctors prefer non-absorbable stitches as they are very strong and the body cannot easily break them down. However, healthcare professionals might choose dissolvable stitches for deeper wounds. Stitching together several layers of tissue with dissolvable stitches can be done to close a deep wound.
Using dissolvable stitches have various benefits like they create less tension and makes it easy for a doctor to fit the shape of the wound which in return reduces the risk of the wood opening up again and therefore leads to less scarring.
Dissolvable stitches might be used for closing a person’s injury after:
- oral surgery, such as wisdom tooth extraction
- repairing muscle and connective tissue
- skin grafts
- some type of abdominal surgery
- repairing vaginal and perineal tearing due to childbirth
How long do dissolvable stitches last?
The time taken by a body to absorb a dissolvable stitch depends on the material used. Material is chosen according to the characteristic of the wound and its location on the body.
Most types of stitches start to dissolve or fall out within a week or two. Sometimes it may be a few weeks before they start disappearing completely. Although it may take several months for some stitches to disappear.
Talk to your doctor about the type of stitch that has been given and for how long are they going to last. In case your wound has healed and it is still bothering you, consider making an appointment with your doctor again.
Most importantly follow the pieces of advice given by your doctor when the wound is being treated. Some general care tips for dissolvable stitches include:
- bath according to your doctor’s instructions
- pat the area dry gently after showering
- keep the stitched area dry
- change the dressings as and when the doctor advises
- avoid using soap on that area
- refrain swimming until the wound heals
- avoid straining the wound until it heals
- prefer wearing clothes that fit loosely around that area
Also, consider washing your hands thoroughly before changing the dressing.
Should you ever remove dissolvable stitches?
No attempt to remove any stitches without doctor’s approval should be considered. Generally, dissolvable stitches do not require removal but if a person does need to remove their stitches follow the instructions given by your doctor to reduce the risk of infections and other complications.
Wound infection is the most likely complication to have from stitches. Symptoms of an infected wound include:
- the skin surrounding the wound may become swollen, red or warm
- unbearable pain from the wounded area
- unpleasant smell or discharge from the wound
- swollen glands
- generally feeling unwell
Are dissolvable stitches better?
Dissolvable stitches are very common with no follow-up procedure for removal once the wound has completely healed. Although dissolvable stitches are likely to take approximately 60 days to disappear, depending upon the injury you have your doctor suggests whether to get dissolvable stitches or not. Because of the fact that dissolvable stitches create less tension and make it easy for the doctors to fit the shape of the wound, they are preferred.
Dissolvable stitches do not require a doctor for its removal as they eventually disappear on their own because of the materials that are used. The body breaks that material down and absorbs it.
It is important to follow the doctor’s care manual after having stitches. For deep wounds, dissolvable stitches are used and it is advisable not attempt to remove any stitches without the doctor’s approval and consultation. In case one suspects that their wound has become infected, proper medical care should be taken immediately.
Advancement in medical science has taken away the ordeal of stitching up a wound and made life much easier and aesthetically pleasing for patients!.