Stitches, also known as sutures, are essential for wound healing. While traditional stitches require removal by a healthcare professional, absorbable stitches dissolve on their own over time. In this article, we will explore how long it takes for dissolvable stitches to dissolve and aid in the healing process.
What are dissolvable stitches made of?
Dissolvable stitches, along with skin glue and synthetic skin grafts, are revolutionary advancements in wound closure techniques utilized by doctors and surgeons. These stitches are made from a variety of materials, including natural substances like silk, hair, and animal-derived collagen, as well as synthetic polymers such as polyglyconate, polydioxanone, polylactic acid, and polyglycolic acid.
Unlike traditional stitches, dissolvable stitches are designed to be absorbed and broken down by the body over time, eliminating the need for medical removal. Whether used in surgical incisions or for closing gum tissue after a wisdom tooth extraction, these stitches naturally disintegrate within a specified timeframe.
How long does it take for stitches to dissolve?
The duration for dissolvable stitches to dissolve can vary, typically ranging from one week to six months, depending on the specific material used. Several factors contribute to this timeframe, including:
- Suture size: Thicker sutures generally take a longer time to break down and dissolve completely.
- Suture material: Sutures made from catgut tend to absorb more rapidly compared to synthetic absorbable sutures, although they may cause more discomfort in certain cases.
- Type of wound: In the case of deep or wide wounds that require an extended healing period, surgeons may opt for more durable absorbable sutures to ensure they do not dissolve before the healing process is completed.
When are dissolvable sutures used?
The choice of stitches used for wound closure depends on various factors, including the procedure and location of the wound. Here are some specific scenarios where dissolvable stitches are commonly used:
Cesarean deliveries and perineal repair: Dissolvable stitches are often preferred for surgical stitching during childbirth procedures. Research conducted in 2014 indicated that women who had C-sections closed with dissolvable sutures experienced a 57% decrease in wound complications compared to those whose wounds were closed with staples.
Oral surgery: Dentists and oral surgeons frequently utilize dissolvable stitches to close the gums after procedures like wisdom tooth removal.
Orthopaedic surgery: Procedures such as knee replacements and other orthopedic surgeries may benefit from long-lasting dissolvable sutures, such as those made with polydioxanone, which take approximately six months to dissolve.
Breast cancer removal: Dissolvable stitches are commonly employed in cases involving tumor and lymph node removal during breast cancer surgery. Their use helps minimize scarring.
Tissue and muscle repair: Dissolvable stitches offer an advantage for internal surgeries and repairs involving connective tissues. They eliminate the need for a follow-up procedure to remove the stitches.
How to Care for Dissolvable Stitches
When healing at home with visible stitches, it is essential to follow these aftercare tips:
Protect your stitches: Safeguard the wound area from direct sunlight by wearing protective clothing or bandages. However, be cautious not to apply excessive pressure on the wound to prevent reopening it.
Maintain cleanliness: Adhere to any specific instructions provided by your doctor and gently clean the wound with soap and water, avoiding scrubbing. Change any soiled or wet bandages and be vigilant for signs of infection, such as pus, oozing, swelling, redness, pain, fever, or persistent inflammation.
Avoid submerging the wound: Refrain from taking baths or swimming while your wound is healing. Additionally, avoid showering with the wound for the first 24 hours to prevent water from seeping in.
If you notice a stitch coming loose, there is usually no cause for alarm as it is a common occurrence that does not pose a health risk. However, if you have any concerns, contact your doctor’s office for advice or schedule a visit to have your wound evaluated.
If you believe the stitches are ready to be removed before they have fully dissolved, it is crucial not to attempt removing them yourself without permission. Instead, consult your GP or nurse practitioner to determine if the stitches should be removed, particularly if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself.
How to speed up wound healing?
To expedite your recovery after injury or surgery and resume your normal activities sooner, here are several helpful tips:
Ensure Sufficient Amino Acids
Amino acids are vital for tissue repair, regardless of the type of sutures used. Increasing your protein intake through shakes or supplements is recommended by doctors to provide the necessary building blocks for speedy wound healing. Our patented Surgical Recovery amino acid blend contains a balanced ratio of essential amino acids that aid in new muscle and tissue synthesis, promoting faster and stronger recovery based on clinical studies.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
In addition to increased protein and amino acid intake, incorporating nutrient-rich vegetables into your diet can expedite your body’s recovery process. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale, along with foods such as beets and mushrooms, provide essential nutrients like zinc, copper, and vitamin A that support healing. Including herbal supplements like turmeric, ginger, and green tea can also help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
While it’s important to gradually return to your regular routine and exercise, ensuring adequate and uninterrupted sleep is crucial for optimal healing. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that sufficient sleep promotes faster wound healing. Establishing a consistent bedtime, following a bedtime routine, and creating a comfortable sleep environment with cool, dark, and quiet surroundings can improve your sleep quality.
During the healing process, it’s essential to refrain from consuming alcohol and using tobacco products like cigarettes. Smoking while recovering from surgery increases the risk of infection, while alcohol diverts the body’s energy toward detoxification rather than healing.
Properly Care for Your Wound
Maintaining cleanliness and appropriate dressing of your wound is essential for unhindered healing. Keep the surrounding skin moisturized and supple, but avoid applying creams or lotions directly to the open wound. Once the wound has healed and any scabs have naturally fallen away (avoid picking at them), consider using products like Mederma or scar creams to minimize hyperpigmentation and unsightly scarring.
Q1: How long does it take for dissolvable stitches to dissolve?
Ans: Dissolvable stitches can take anywhere from a week to six months to dissolve.
Q2: Can I remove my own dissolvable stitches?
Ans: It is important not to remove dissolvable stitches yourself without permission from a healthcare professional.
Q3: What should I do if a stitch comes loose?
Ans: If a stitch comes loose, contact your doctor’s office for advice or schedule a visit for an evaluation.
Q4: How can I speed up my recovery after surgery?
Ans: Tips include increasing protein intake, maintaining a healthy diet, getting ample rest, avoiding toxins, and proper wound care.
Q5: Can dissolvable stitches cause infection?
Ans: While rare, dissolvable stitches can potentially cause infection. It’s important to keep the wound clean and watch for signs of infection.