What are dissolvable stitches?
Dissolvable stitches, also known as absorbable or vicryl sutures, are medical threads made from materials that the body can gradually break down and absorb over time. Unlike traditional stitches, which require removal by a healthcare professional after a period of time, dissolvable stitches naturally break down and are absorbed by the body, eliminating the need for a removal procedure.
Dissolvable stitches are commonly used in surgeries and procedures that require stitches below the surface of the skin, such as those performed on internal organs or tissues. They are also used for closing incisions or wounds that are difficult to reach, such as those in the mouth or throat.
It is important to note that not all stitches are dissolvable, and your healthcare provider will determine the best type of stitch for your specific procedure. Dissolvable stitches come in different sizes and types, depending on the procedure and location where they will be used. It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for care and follow-up visits to ensure proper healing.
How do dissolvable stitches work?
Dissolvable stitches work by slowly breaking down and being absorbed by the body’s natural processes. They are made of materials such as polyglycolic acid, polylactic acid, or caprolactone, which the body can gradually metabolize and eliminate over time.
When dissolvable stitches are placed in the body, they are designed to maintain their strength and hold tissues together for a certain period of time, usually ranging from several days to several weeks. As the body begins to heal and the tissues start to knit together, the dissolvable stitches gradually lose their strength and begin to break down.
The speed at which dissolvable stitches dissolve can vary depending on the type of suture material used, the location of the stitches in the body, and the patient’s individual healing process. In general, stitches used in deeper tissues may take longer to dissolve than those used on the surface of the skin.
It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for caring for your incision or wound while your dissolvable stitches are in place, and to keep the area clean and dry to promote proper healing.
Factors affecting the rate of dissolving stitches
The rate at which dissolvable stitches dissolve can be affected by a variety of factors. These can include the type of suture material used, the location of the stitches in the body, the patient’s age and health status, and the presence of any underlying medical conditions.
The type of suture material used can have a significant impact on the rate at which the stitches dissolve. Some materials, such as polyglycolic acid, break down more quickly than others, such as polylactic acid. The location of the stitches in the body can also affect the rate of dissolution, as areas with more blood flow may break down stitches more quickly.
A patient’s age and health status can also play a role in the rate of dissolving stitches. Younger patients and those in good health may have a more robust immune response, which can break down the stitches more quickly. Patients with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions may have a slower rate of stitch dissolution.
In some cases, the body may reject the stitches or form an inflammatory response around them, which can slow down the rate of dissolution. It is important to closely monitor the healing process and to contact your healthcare provider if you experience any signs of infection or delayed wound healing.
Care and precautions while healing with dissolvable stitches
While dissolvable stitches eliminate the need for suture removal, it is still important to properly care for your wound or incision to promote proper healing. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Keep the area clean and dry: It is important to keep the wound or incision clean and dry to prevent infection. Your healthcare provider will provide instructions for how to properly clean the area and may recommend using an antiseptic solution.
Avoid pulling or tugging on the stitches: It is important to avoid pulling or tugging on the stitches, as this can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infection.
Watch for signs of infection: Signs of infection can include redness, swelling, warmth, and drainage from the wound. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away.
Follow up with your healthcare provider: Your healthcare provider will likely schedule a follow-up visit to monitor your healing progress and check the status of the stitches. It is important to attend all scheduled appointments and to report any concerns or complications.
Avoid strenuous activity: Your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding strenuous activity or heavy lifting while your wound or incision heals. It is important to follow these instructions to prevent further injury or damage to the area.
When to contact a doctor if stitches do not dissolve as expected?
In most cases, dissolvable stitches will naturally break down and be absorbed by the body within a few weeks. However, in some cases, the stitches may not dissolve as expected or may cause complications. Here are some signs to watch for and when to contact your healthcare provider:
Prolonged redness, swelling, or pain: If you experience prolonged redness, swelling, or pain around the site of the stitches, this may indicate an infection or other complication.
Increased drainage or discharge: If you notice increased drainage or discharge from the wound, this may also be a sign of infection or other complication.
Unusual odor: If you notice an unusual odor coming from the wound or incision site, this may also be a sign of infection.
Stitch exposure: If the stitches become exposed or start to protrude from the skin, this may be a sign that they are not dissolving as expected or that the healing process is not progressing properly.
Delayed healing: If the wound or incision is not healing as quickly as expected, this may be a sign of an underlying issue or complication.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your healthcare provider right away. They may need to remove the stitches or take other measures to address any complications and promote proper healing.