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How was your experience having your stitches removed?

Among the many methods for closing wounds of the skin, stitching, or suturing, is the most common form of repairing a wound. Other methods include surgical staples, skin closure tapes, and adhesives.Removing stitches or other skin-closure devices is a procedure that many people dread. Understanding the various skin-closure procedures and knowing how they are put in and what to expect when they are removed can help overcome much of this anxiety.Stitches (also called sutures) are used to close cuts and wounds in skin. They can be used in nearly every part of the body, internally and externally. Doctors literally "sew" the skin together with individual sutures and tie a secure knot. Stitches then allow the skin to heal naturally when it otherwise may not come together. Stitches are used to close a variety of wound types. Accidental cuts or lacerations are often closed with stitches. Also, surgeons use stitches during operations to tie ends of bleeding blood vessels and to close surgical incisions.Sutures are divided into two general categories, namely, absorbable and nonabsorbable. Absorbable sutures rapidly break down in the tissues and lose their strength within 60 days. This type of suture does not have to be removed. These are used to close skin and for other internal uses where a permanent stitch is not needed. Nonabsorbable sutures, on the other hand, maintain their strength for longer than 60 days. These sutures are used to close skin, external wounds, or to repair blood vessels, for example. They may require removal depending on where they are used, such as once a skin wound has healed.The general technique of placing stitches is simple. The "thread" or suture that is used is attached to a needle. The wound is usually cleaned with sterile water and peroxide. Betadine, an antiseptic solution, is used to cleanse the area around the wound. Next, the area is numbed with an anesthetic agent such as lidocaine (Xylocaine). Then the needle with the thread attached is used to "sew" the edges of the wound together, in an effort to recreate the original appearance. Several stitches may be needed to accomplish this. Once the wound is closed a topical antibiotic gel is often spread over the stitches and a bandage is initially applied to the wound. All sutured wounds that require stitches will have scar formation, but the scarring is usually minimal.Surgical staples are useful for closing many types of wounds. Staples have the advantage of being quicker and may cause fewer infections than stitches. Disadvantages of staples are permanent scars if used inappropriately and imperfect aligning of the wound edges, which can lead to improper healing. Staples are used on scalp lacerations and commonly used to close surgical wounds.Skin closure tapes, also known as adhesive strips, have recently gained popularity. The advantages of skin closure tapes are plenty. The rate of wound infection is less with adhesive strips than with stitches. Also, it takes less time to apply skin closure tape. For many people, there is no need for a painful injection of anesthetic when using skin closure tapes. Disadvantages of using skin closure tapes include less precision in bringing wound edges together than suturing. Not all areas of the body can be taped. For example, body areas with secretions such as the armpits, palms, or soles are difficult areas to place adhesive strips. Areas with hair also would not be suitable for taping.Adhesive agents can be used to close a wound. This material is applied to the edges of the wound somewhat like glue and should keep the edges of the wound together until healing occurs. Adhesive glue is the newest method of wound repair and is becoming a popular alternative to stitches, especially for children. The adhesive simply falls off or wears away after about 5-7 days.
71 Responses
Avatar universal
I have always removed them myself and the Doctor gets mad at me. I just pull the stich up and find where the knots are and then cut it just below the knot and then pull it out knot first. Clean it up with some peroxicide and then put a bandage on it for a day or so. No big problem. I am a ex para-medic and know enough about medicine to be dangerous.
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Thank you for the wonderful answer. It is very useful indeed.
Avatar universal
Seven years ago I had bilateral full hip replacement. All went well with a week in the hospital and a week in rehab. Near the end of 6 weeks at home I had 18 staples removed from each hip. It was the worse pain I had ever felt. I don't know why there was no injection prior to removal of the staples to reduce the pain. At the time I didn't know injections could be used. You may wish to inquire about this if you need staples removed. Good luck      Walking Fine
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I have a high pain tolerance but when the stitches and 3 pins were removed from my foot 1 month after hammer toe surgery the pain was off the charts and threw my body into trauma. No anesthetic was used. I still have two pins in my toe that have yet to be removed and my anxiety level is extreme. I am calling the doctor today to make sure that I am not put through anymore barbaric procedures.
Avatar universal
My experience was nightmarish and had to be rescheduled to come back three days later because the pain was so intense. I was also told to soak the foot with the stitches in in with warm water to soften the area. I'm really worried because I was hoping to return to work soon.
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Suture removal from my breast augmentation and tummy tuck were horribly painful.
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I was told that there would be no pain in removing five stitches. The reason I had them is because a dermatologist removed a mole on my arm. The biopsy of the mole had revealed atypical cells, hence the removal. I was disappointed that it wasn't the dermatologist who removed the stitches. Instead, it was a really young girl, presumably a nurse. Two stitches were painful when she removed them. She didn't believe me, however, and simply said that I had a low pain threshold! She even told me that NOBODY has pain getting stitches out. AND, that I was thinking too much about it. I will not return to this dermatologist. As for low pain threshold, I didn't even take pain medication after the mole had been removed.
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Please babies I'm 14 and cut my leg with a Bowie knife that left a four inch laceration and had 12 stitches and I never felt the cut or the stitches I did however feel the neddle filled with lidocaine.
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I had 8 stiches removed from my left ankle.I found it  painfull.I then had a coldspray on my ankle.My ankle was then replastered,my foot being at 90 degrees to my leg.
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I recently had stitches removed and the procedure was quite painful. No numbing agent was used. The doctor cut the stitches and pulled them out. The site felt less pressure once the stitches were removed.
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I had stitches removed from my left forefinger after a wide cut with scissors. The removal was extremely painful! I hope to never experience it again.
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Currently I am having stiches removed from the sole of my foot. I week go, 8 were removed, I cried like a big baby, the experience was extremely painful. Today I went back and he was about to remove the rest and I said no. So we are scheduled to remove them in 2 weeks, I am going to take oral sedation first.
Avatar universal
I had carpal and cubital tunnel surgery. I did not have pain from the surgery until they took the stitches out. I have never had that kind of pain. There was no numbing agent used. If you have to have stitches taken out, I would suggest either: 1. Ask for a sedative or 2. Ask for the area to be numbed.
Avatar universal
I too had the super extreme level of pain reported by the other writers in this thread. After hand surgery, all stitches but one were removed with not much pain. The last one was at a level of pain that was so horrific that I could not tolerate the stitch even being touched. What bothers me most is that everyone behaves as if this is unheard of. But there must be an explanation, and surely there must be a way of dealing with the problem. Even on this page, nobody has spoken up to explain what is happening and what to do about it.
Avatar universal
I was in such pain getting my pins removed from hammer toe and bunion surgery that the doctor wouldn't remove my stitches. Instead he gave me a prescription for valium and rescheduled me for another day. I can't believe they remove the pins routine without a shot of something. I begged and pleaded after the first pin. But he proceeded to remove all 3 as I screamed.
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I had approximately 25 stitches removed after wrist surgery to remove a cyst. Twenty of them didn't hurt, but the other five, the pain was the worst I have ever felt. Now I still get that horrible pain in my wrist even if I'm not moving it. I don't understand.
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I went to have stitches removed from upper and lower eye lid surgery. The nurse got 2 taken on one eye and as I found it unbearably painful she went to the other eye and removed one. I felt myself getting hotter and hotter and thought that I was going to faint. I had to walk out as I could not tolerate it and feeling very weak and faint with about 40 more stitches in total to take out. I don't know what to do I am so nervous.
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I had an accidental cut on the tip of my finger that required 5 stitches. Let me just say whoever said the removal of them is painless must have not ever had them. I have a very high pain level tolerance and the numbing shots even take an unusually high amount to work for me. It took 8 shots just to numb the finger tip for her to initially clean, reattach, and close my wound. When they took them out it seemed like it had some numbness in it as I could barely feel the girl cleaning it. Boy, was I wrong! I was squirming around in pain every time she clipped one. They said it was because there are so many nerves in the affected area. But I imagine it would be just as painful anywhere else. I will say though that as soon as it was done I had a lot less pain than I did before she even started to remove them.
Avatar universal
I have had stitches to close a wound injury to a deep cut in my thumb. It was very nasty, I could see straight through to the inside of my cut. I have a scar left for a long time I want to remove the scar.
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In 1991 I had to have a cervical discectomy of C5 to C7. During the surgery the chief resident said for some reason I somehow lost 3 liters of blood (1 pint less than your total blood volume). Prior to making the incision in my neck they removed the bone graft for the fusion. At that time they put my head in a halo to stabilize my neck for the time being. Ironically, they threw my graft away admitting they really were losing me and there was not much sense saving it. Well, thank goodness I did make it. They put me in ICU on Christmas Eve. I was 34 years old then. Last year at the left halo site all my skin fell off the hole and I pulled out a V shaped piece of stitching. This year again on the left side I get large eruptions that are full of thick, white matter. Below is a very tight stitch that is connected very tightly to both ends. My doctor has cut one of them but as of today I have cut 37 stitches all over the left side of my head. My question is why they would stitch in this manner and why it would take 25 years to erupt.
Avatar universal
I had upper and lower eyelid surgery. After one week virtually pain free, I went to have the stitches removed. I have had stitches before. It was the most painful experience that took almost an hour. The surgeon has never had this issue. I was sweating, crying and covering my mouth to keep from screaming. She had to cut them in sections to remove. No articles really explain what happened. I think perhaps they were in too long. I am in excellent health and heal well. I am annoyed that no attempt was made to numb the area to save me so much pain.
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I had a neurofibroma mass blocking a nerve in the arch of my foot. I had 4 stitches removed today and it was so painful! The nurse acted like it was a strange thing that I was in pain. Also I can barely walk on it now than with the stitches in! I hope this is normal.
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Absolutely horrible! Like the Middle Ages! The doctor told me no one had pain in 30 years of doing feet! I have stitches on 8 toes for hammertoes. It feels like they are putting a cigarette out on my toe when they remove stitches. They have no topical sprays or any laughing gas, it is punishment.
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I had a bad experience with a nurse at a plastic surgeon's rooms in Australia. In Europe and the USA the actual surgeon removes them, after all, he put them in. No Xylocaine, no Entonox. I think they must be accustomed to working with cadavers. The external sutures removed following an open rhinoplasty felt like I was having my face ripped off. No aftercare at all. It is all about the money. Generally speaking, I have not found the plastic surgeons to provide good patient aftercare at all.
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