covers common questions about sutures or stitches.
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WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR SUTURE
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If:
- You feel weak
or very sick
- A major surgical wound is starting to open up
- Bleeding that won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Suture came out early and wound has re-opened
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am
and 4 pm) If:
- You think
you need to be seen
- Suture came out early and wound is still closed
- Suture removal is overdue
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If:
- You have
other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home If:
wound with no complications and you don't think you need to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR SUTURED
- Suture Care for a normal
- Can get wound wet (e.g. bathing or swimming) after 24 hours.
- Apply antibiotic ointment 3 times a day. (Reason: to prevent
infection and a thick scab.)
- Cleanse with warm water once daily or if becomes soiled.
- Change wound dressing when wet or soiled.
- Dressing no longer needed when edge of wound closed (usually
- EXCEPTION: dressing needed to prevent sutures from catching
Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) or
staples should be removed:
- Face 4-5 days
- Neck 7 days
- Scalp 7-10 days
- Chest or abdomen 7-10 days
- Arms and back of hands 7-10 days
- Legs and top of feet 10 days
- Back 10 days
- Palms and soles 12-14 days
- Overlying a joint 12-14 days
Removal Delays: Don't miss your appointment for removing stitches.
Stitches removed late can leave unnecessary skin marks and occasionally cause
scarring. Delays also makes suture removal more difficult.
Suture Out Early: If the sutures come out early, reinforce the
wound with tape or butterfly Band-Aids until the office visit
Wound Protection: After removal of sutures:
- Protect the wound from injury during the following month
- Avoid sports that could re-injure the wound. If a sport is essential,
apply tape before playing.
- Allow the scab to fall off on its own. Do not try to remove
Pain Medication: For pain relief, take acetaminophen every 4-6 hours
(e.g. Tylenol; adult dosage 650 mg) OR ibuprofen every 6-8 hours (e.g. Advil,
Motrin; adult dosage 400 mg).
- Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease,
or other contraindications to using this type of anti-inflammatory drug. Do
not use if pregnant. Do not use ibuprofen for >7 days without consulting
- Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
- Read the package instructions thoroughly on all medications
that you take.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Looks infected
- Sutures come out early
- You become worse or develop any of the "Call Your Doctor"
This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical
advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full
responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Adult HouseCalls Online. Copyright © 2000-2004
David Thompson, M.D. FACEP
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