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  #1  
Old 10-04-2003, 01:28 PM
KarmaComa KarmaComa is offline
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Removing my own stitches (sutures)... risks?

I have some really thin sutures (7 of them) and the clinic is closed on the weekends. Obviously I shouldn't remove them if I want to go by the book, but what's involved, other than <snip> <tweeze> <snip> <tweeze> etc.? What are the worries and risks?
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  #2  
Old 10-04-2003, 01:31 PM
Phage Phage is offline
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Besides your flesh falling apart and death? I suspect that it greatly depends on where they are and if the wound is actually sealed, but why go at it on your own? If you need to see a doc later they are going to ask you why you went at their area of expertise with some lefty-scissors.
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  #3  
Old 10-04-2003, 01:41 PM
KarmaComa KarmaComa is offline
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Because I'm left-handed! The issue is that it's in my face, and they should come out today, because the wound is sealed and the longer they're in, the more scarring I'll get from the sutures themselves.

But I suppose, if done improperly, it could lead to death 50-70 years from now.

I'm actually going to go to the hospital to get it done, but I'm curious.
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  #4  
Old 10-04-2003, 01:51 PM
InternetLegend InternetLegend is offline
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If your wound isn't sufficiently healed and/or if you use non-sterile scissors, you could get an infection. If you aren't careful with your scissors, you could cut yourself. If you pull too hard on the sutures, you could conceivably cause a new injury. Aside from those risks, I don't think there's anything else. Our vet had us remove our own dog's stitches once, but we weren't too worried about scarring.

If there's a help line for the clinic, you might try calling that. Alternately, if you really want those sutures out today, you could see if you can get the on-call doctor on the phone to ask permission.
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  #5  
Old 10-04-2003, 02:06 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by KarmaComa
Because I'm left-handed! The issue is that it's in my face, and they should come out today, because the wound is sealed and the longer they're in, the more scarring I'll get from the sutures themselves.
Is this a medical opinion, or your own?

Why not put the vanity issues aside for the weekend and have the doctor do it for you when it's time.
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  #6  
Old 10-04-2003, 03:16 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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The biggest concern is that you don't remove them properly. There's not a lot to it. You pull on BOTH ends of one suture with some tweezers, and cut BELOW the knot, on ONE string of the buried loop, with some scissors.

Personally, I don't care if my patients remove their own sutures providing they do it properly.
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  #7  
Old 10-04-2003, 03:21 PM
Dragonblink Dragonblink is offline
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In my experience, "railroad tracks" from sutures fade pretty well. Two days' wait won't kill you. An infection, on the other hand, could eff you up right good.
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  #8  
Old 10-04-2003, 03:32 PM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
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IMHO this is a great way to save $50. I don't really see how sterility comes into play very much. I use a pair of nail clippers to clip below the knot and jerk out the stitch. The clippers never even touch my skin.
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  #9  
Old 10-04-2003, 03:46 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dr_Paprika
The biggest concern is that you don't remove them properly. There's not a lot to it. You pull on BOTH ends of one suture with some tweezers, and cut BELOW the knot, on ONE string of the buried loop, with some scissors.

Personally, I don't care if my patients remove their own sutures providing they do it properly.
Exactly what my doctor said when I wanted to do mine. It was easy. My GF actually did the deed, as she was an experienced seamstress.
Vanity didn't enter into it. I was stoned, we were having a good time, and I didn't feel like going to the hospital.
I did leave the eye surgery stitches to the doctor.
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  #10  
Old 10-04-2003, 03:54 PM
Bumbazine Bumbazine is offline
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I had to pull my own stitches, out of my face as a matter of fact, a few years ago when the doctor who put them in got flooded out of his office. (really). Just cut one end off at skin level and pull on the other end. Pull as close to parallel with your skin as you can There's a small possibility you might drag some germs under the skin at the suture locations.

Disclaimer: Poster is not a doctor and has been known to do things he has been told not to do. Follow his advice at your own risk.
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  #11  
Old 10-04-2003, 04:17 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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I do note that a suture left in place often creates a pretty messy infection. It is important to do it properly. Officially, I'm not recommending it to anyone who is not my patient. It's not hard to do, though.
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  #12  
Old 10-04-2003, 04:28 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Personally, I think this is one of those cases where, at the docs discretion, the patient could (at the time of initial treatment) be sent home with a how-to pamphlet.
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  #13  
Old 10-04-2003, 05:42 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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I removed 8 stitches about a month ago. I swabbed them (and instruments) with alcohol, then used a needle-nosed pliers and the scissors on my Swiss Army knife. Quite easy to do, and no problems developed.

Note that when you go to a hospital or doctor's office, there is at least a small risk of infection by germs from other patients.
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  #14  
Old 10-04-2003, 06:42 PM
Bill H. Bill H. is offline
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I removed my 4 year old son's sutures on his forehead once. Could have gone to the doctor, but really didn't see a need to. I was careful of course, but it was very simple, quick and painless. I'm sure if one weren't careful you could pull back open a wound or cause an infection or such, but it seems like those are pretty unlikely especially if you're careful.

When he actually had the stitches, I asked the doctor if there was anything I needed to watch out for when removing them, and she freaked out as if I were planning on putting my son's life in danger and gave me no advice, insisting that I bring him back in to have it done by professionals. Needless to say, that pretty much settled her credentials in my mind and I've made it a point to avoid her for future medical events.
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  #15  
Old 10-04-2003, 06:54 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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TMI !!

I had to remove my own (external)stitches after my vasectomy operation - they were supposed to be self-dissolving, but they showed no signs of doing this even after quite a long time - my doctor refused to do it, telling me to go back and see her if they were still there in six months' time.

Removing them wasn't easy, as the surrounding skin had kind of enveloped them, so there was a fair bit of pulling and swearing involved before I could expose enough of the loop to (very carefully) slip the end of the scissors in.

I did say TMI
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  #16  
Old 10-04-2003, 08:39 PM
moejuck moejuck is offline
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I would make sure to clean the tweezers and/or scissors with rubbing alcohol before I took out the stitches. Also make sure you keep an eye on the area for swelling, redness, or drainage. If that happens, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
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  #17  
Old 10-04-2003, 09:47 PM
Cyn Cyn is offline
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A note: Stitches self-removed with cleaned scissors, tweezers and the like are one thing, but leave your stapled wounds alone. You'd need a staple remover and I don't recommend trying to fashion a substitute at home from the contents of one's kitchen drawers....
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  #18  
Old 10-04-2003, 11:52 PM
dqa dqa is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eleusis
IMHO this is a great way to save $50.
In most cases suture removal should be part of the "global" service. Each surgical procedure has a global period designated by the insurance company. All routine care related to the procedure within that period is considered part of the surgery, and therefore already paid for.

Complications are another story; same for anything beyond the 14-, 30-, 90-day or whatever global period.

This may vary, so you should ask if it's an issue. Suffice to say that in most cases, you needn't to take out your own sutures for financial reasons alone.
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  #19  
Old 10-05-2003, 12:13 AM
j.c. j.c. is offline
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I've done it at least a half-dozen times in my long life of getting minor bang-ups from my own stupidity. My doctors have always said I could and it was never a problem for me.

IMHO, it's easy to remove your own sticches than to deal with those darn butterfly bandage things that are supposed to "fall off" at the right time and the glue stuff (which I've had once.)

I think how much of a scar one has is a gene thing, not an injury or how long the stitches were in thing.
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  #20  
Old 10-05-2003, 12:35 AM
QuasiQubit QuasiQubit is offline
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I've done it once (only had one stitch) it was in my bottom lip, I think it was supposed to be self dissolving, but it wasn't doing so. I just cut the loop with my swiss army knife, and pulled it out with my fingers. I think the constant rubbing of the knot on my lip was more of a health hazard than removing it.
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  #21  
Old 10-05-2003, 01:01 AM
Apricot Apricot is offline
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When I was eight, my dad let me remove his staples. I used needle nose pliers and it went perfectly. They were simple straight legged staples in his head.

Dad was big into home surgery. He and I both are somewhat accident prone.

Therefore, I've removed bunches of stitches. However, if there were any signs of infection or the first stitch didn't come out properly, you can bet I'd be seeing the doctor. Never happened, though.
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  #22  
Old 10-05-2003, 11:55 AM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
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dga that's a good point but not everyone has health insurance. When I go to the doctor, I pay cash, so it better be a emergency.
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  #23  
Old 10-05-2003, 11:57 AM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
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an emergency, even.
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  #24  
Old 10-05-2003, 12:05 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Tired of those huge doctor bills?

Quote:
Originally posted by Apricot
When I was eight, my dad let me remove his staples. I used needle nose pliers and it went perfectly. They were simple straight legged staples in his head.

Dad was big into home surgery. He and I both are somewhat accident prone.

Therefore, I've removed bunches of stitches. However, if there were any signs of infection or the first stitch didn't come out properly, you can bet I'd be seeing the doctor. Never happened, though.
Thanks, Apricot, for the mental images. Especially the home surgery.
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  #25  
Old 10-05-2003, 12:16 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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Where I work, the patient is not charged for medical services, including sutures or their removal. I get paid a reasonable rate to do it by OHIP.

I work in a community with lots of farmers and a Honda plant. Farmers are very big into home surgery, self-reliance and not going to the doctor. Most would remove the sutures themselves anyway. No reason they shouldn't, in my mind, if they understand what to do -- just cutting the threads can leave part of the stitch buried.
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  #26  
Old 10-05-2003, 12:27 PM
Apricot Apricot is offline
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That would explain it, Dr_Paprika, my dad was a farmer.

And, your welcome Mangeorge
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  #27  
Old 10-05-2003, 12:56 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Most of the adults I grew up around worked for farmers or were laborers. My dad was a delivery man. Home treatment was the norm. Stitches were mostly for those cuts that wouldn't stop bleeding, iirc. Everybody had scars by the time we were teenagers. We were kinda proud of them.
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  #28  
Old 10-05-2003, 01:13 PM
dqa dqa is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eleusis
dga that's a good point but not everyone has health insurance. When I go to the doctor, I pay cash, so it better be a emergency.
The point is still valid - while the office is free to charge you for taking out the sutures, I think in most cases uninsured policy will be consistent with insured patients: suture removal is at no cost, considered part of the procedure that put them in a week or two before. But call ahead to make sure.
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  #29  
Old 10-05-2003, 03:31 PM
spogga spogga is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eleusis
IMHO this is a great way to save $50. I don't really see how sterility comes into play very much. I use a pair of nail clippers to clip below the knot and jerk out the stitch. The clippers never even touch my skin.
Hey I used the same method to remove 5 stitches from my chin following a motorcycle fall
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  #30  
Old 10-05-2003, 03:43 PM
Trucido Trucido is offline
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When I got stitches in my shoulder, the doc only took out every other stitch when I came back. He sent me home with a little stitch cutter (basically a hooked razor blade in a sterile package) and instructions on how to do the rest. I have a big mother of a scar there, but no stitch marks. I suppose I just looked particularly competent, because it really surprised me that any doctor would actually tell me to do that kind of thing myself (To his credit, the man was completely professional, fully certified, and was fixing a mistake made by a much more popular doctor).
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  #31  
Old 10-05-2003, 03:45 PM
astro astro is offline
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I removed the stitches on a chin wound suture. For years afterward there was small irritating pimple I would have to express every month or so on the ege of the wound. Whether this was because I left a small piece of the suture monofilament in the wound, or not, I don't know . It finally went away after several years. Get a doctor to take it out. If even a little bit is left in it can be problematic.
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  #32  
Old 10-05-2003, 05:40 PM
KarmaComa KarmaComa is offline
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Well, apparently I'm in good company, because I ended up doing it myself (after being told that it would be a 3 hour wait at the hospital). I used nail clippers and tweezers, and one stitch had actually come out by itself.

And if there was any question as to whether or not the wound was healed, the scabs came off today. Still pretty pink underneath though!
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  #33  
Old 10-05-2003, 05:55 PM
KarmaComa KarmaComa is offline
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Well, apparently I'm in good company, because I ended up doing it myself (after being told that it would be a 3 hour wait at the hospital). I used nail clippers and tweezers, and one stitch had actually come out by itself.

And if there was any question as to whether or not the wound was healed, the scabs came off today. Still pretty pink underneath though!
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  #34  
Old 03-06-2012, 11:17 AM
CreamofWeber CreamofWeber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarmaComa View Post
Because I'm left-handed! The issue is that it's in my face, and they should come out today, because the wound is sealed and the longer they're in, the more scarring I'll get from the sutures themselves.

But I suppose, if done improperly, it could lead to death 50-70 years from now.

I'm actually going to go to the hospital to get it done, but I'm curious.
50-70 years from now? What?

No... if done improperly it could get infected... which could lead to death 5-7 days from now.
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  #35  
Old 03-06-2012, 11:57 AM
running coach running coach is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CreamofWeber View Post
50-70 years from now? What?

No... if done improperly it could get infected... which could lead to death 5-7 days from now.
Or eight and a half years ago.

Last edited by running coach; 03-06-2012 at 11:58 AM..
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  #36  
Old 03-06-2012, 12:06 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Originally Posted by CreamofWeber View Post
50-70 years from now? What?

No... if done improperly it could get infected... which could lead to death 5-7 days from now.
zombie or no

good thing he took them out already, otherwise there would be scarring by now.
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  #37  
Old 03-06-2012, 12:12 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
zombie or no

good thing he took them out already, otherwise there would be scarring by now.
Well, he hasn't posted in 3 years. So, probably dead.
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  #38  
Old 03-06-2012, 12:44 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
Well, he hasn't posted in 3 years. So, probably dead.
Yeah, but he made it about 6 years after the removal, so that's not too bad - although it is only about 1/10th of his estimate.

Last edited by Darth Panda; 03-06-2012 at 12:44 PM..
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