Medical question - stitches?

No, I’m not looking for medical advice, you’re not my doctor, and so on.

But over Labor Day weekend, I managed to crash my bicycle and ended up needing five stitches in my ankle. The injury’s healing quite well, according to the surgeon who looked at it, and the stitches are due out on Sunday or Monday.

I just wondered, though – is there any particular reason (other than, perhaps, liability) a surgeon has to be the one to remove the stitches? It seems to me that anyone with a sterlized pair of scissors and tweezers could do the job.

I’ve always removed my own. I just made sure the area was clean and my fingers and the clippers were cleaned and sterilized.

Over here stitches and staples (and catheters, drains, stents and central lines) would be removed by a nurse (with special training in the case of central lines).

I’ve had outpatient stitches three times, once on my face, once on my scalp and one on my thigh. I removed the thigh stitches myself rather than possibly pay for another office visit and would’ve removed the others myself had they been somewhere else on my body.

Aren’t a lot of sutures dissolving-type now, so that no one has to remove them?

My son had a couple of stitches put in to close the hole made for a chest tube during surgery (the huge incisions down his back and across his side weren’t stitched but superglued and taped.) His doctors told me I *could *come back and have them take out the stitches, but I could just do it at home if I wanted to. Their tone of voice told me that I’d be considered a raging wuss if I wasted their time with stitch removal. I was a little nervous, not of doing it wrong, but of hurting him. I’d been with him through the whole recovery, so he already associated me with pain. I couldn’t bring myself to cause him more pain directly through my hands, so I called one of my nurse friends over to do it. It was nothing. Snip and yank. I think one of them bled like two drops of blood.

OTOH, your doctor might know that having you come back for stitch removal is the only way he’s likely to get the chance to do a follow-up exam, and that might be a good idea in your particular case. Y’know, so he can check for infection and make sure everything is healing properly. I don’t know. I’d call him to check.

Supposedly, but they don’t always dissolve as promised. I had to remove my own when they became almost completely (and quite uncomfortably) embedded - this was after a vasectomy, so it wasn’t a fun job.

I have removed stitches myself and my wife in the past. Usually, I do it for injuries, not surgical sutures. With surgery, you was the doctor to see everything post-op for evaluation; with injuries, if there’s no infection and everything is healing fine, it’s not so important IMAO. Provided you can reach them, that is…

Sterilized nail clippers and tweezers work just fine, too.

I had dissolving sutures years back when I had a hernia repaired. (Although one of them didn’t dissolve properly, but that wasn’t a big deal.)

They told me in this case that due to the location and nature of the injury, they weren’t going to use the dissolving kind.

Thanks – y’all pretty much confirmed my gut instinct/suspicion.

An anecdote supporting the notion that even if the stitches don’t need to be removed by medical personnel, a visit to the doctor to allow stitches to be removed can allow other things to be checked on.

Mom cut herself somewhat severely between her index and middle fingers of her left hand. I took her to the Urgent Treatment Center, where they declared that she was bleeding profusely enough, and had cut herself deeply enough, that they wanted her to go the Emergency Room (at a particular hospital) so that if she’d nicked something serious, the experts would be available to perform the surgery.

So we drove across town. Eventually she was stitched up, bandaged, and given a referral to a hand surgeon.

Hand surgeon checked her out the next day, rebandaged her hand and told her to come back in a week or two.

When she went back, her stitches were removed, her range of motion was checked, and her doctor recommended that she walk down the hall to the physical therapy department and get some physical therapy. She was assured that the therapists kept appointments for the doctor’s patients, and so no appointment was needed. She went down the hall, got advice on exersizes, some “Thera-putty” (special Silly Putty) and scar treatment.

Between the physical therapist and the doctor she also got a lot of assurance that she hadn’t hurt a ligament in the original injury.

Heh - I sympathise. I had the same deal after my circumcision at age 23. Found it to be a bit like picking at a scab though - slightly weird, slightly painful but at the same time addictive and oddly fascinating…!

So, I suppose you can provide the Straight Dope on the “cut vs uncut” controversy?

If the wound looks healed, I would probably take them out myself. Seems like such a waste of time to go in for an appointment for something you can do in minutes. Reminds me of when I got my puppy fixed this past year. The vet was 45 miles away from my home and of course only opened Monday thru Friday. I wasn’t going to take a full day off or even a half day for something I could do myself with a snip and pull thru by the knot. I must be good at it because the pup didn’t seem to feel a thing.

Doctor!? What? You don’t do your own stiches after cauterizing the area with some gunpowder and a red-hot bowie knife?

I’m glad I had a nurse remove my stitches after having a benign tumor removed from my knee. Here’s why.
The incision was an inch long on the inside of my right knee. The surgeon put about 6 stitches in there. Seems like more than necessary right? Well the reason was because being that it’s the knee, a moving joint, the skin, when sutured, can tear easily. Ew. (that’s what he told me anyway)

So 7 days later I waltz in there feeling good. The incision is healing nicely, not much pain anymore. The nurse takes a look at it and says, “Uh oh.” These are words one never wants to hear from a doctor, nurse, dentist or a hair stylist.

Apparently the “uh oh” was because I heal waaay too fast. The skin grew completely around the stitches. In only 7 days!! :confused: So she had to rip them out. Bleeding and pain ensued as well as countless words of apology from the nurse.

I would not have fared well trying to do that myself. At least not without 2 vicodin and a bottle of vodka.

Last week I had a cornea resection (transplant of the lower layer of the cornea) which is held in place with just one stitch. Doc wants to take it out next week.

What do y’all think, OK to take it out myself? :smiley:

Give it a go… what’s the worst that could happen? :smiley:

It helps if you look the other way when you do it though.

Oh, it wasn’t slightly anything in my case - I had to dig quite a bit into the skin to find the loop underneath the knot, then I had to pull it taut in order to get the scissors through to cut the stitch. It was really nasty and I only did it myself because the doctor refused.

Stitches? What, you don’t know how to spot weld?

Three weeks after a recent cataract removal, when the 3 “sutures” in my cornea did not dissolve, the eye doc put a numbing solution in the eye, then “broke” one suture, apparently with a knife (it was too close to focus on), then removed it with tweezers, then the next, and then the last one. Afterwards was the only discomforting part of the whole cataract surge (mild discomfort).

Except for areas such as the perineal region where we might use a dissolvable suture, skin not closed with staples is usually closed with a nylon (or similar synthetic) that does not dissolve but which causes less local reaction to the stitch…

Both stitches and staples are easily removed at home with almost no possibility of doing it wrong. Staples require a tool, which is usually sent home with the patient. The scissors do not need to be sterile; nor do the tweezers. It might be nice to clean it with soap and water first, or rubbing alcohol, but not much is likely to happen even if you don’t.

Exceptions are very tiny skin sutures where it’s hard to get under the loop, unusual types of sutures such as a subcutaneous stitch, and so on.

Regular nylong single loop sutures on an extremity are not worth a visit to the Dr if the wound is healing fine otherwise.