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How Long Do Dissolvable Stitches Last?

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Dissolvable stitches, also known as absorbable sutures, close wounds without needing removal. Made from materials like polyglycolic acid, polylactic acid, or polydioxanone, they naturally break down in the body over time. This reduces the risk of stitch marks and eliminates the need for suture removal procedures.

While dissolvable stitches are designed to break down and be absorbed by the body, they still require proper care to prevent complications such as infection. Understanding how to care for dissolvable stitches is crucial for promoting optimal wound healing and reducing the risk of infection. Proper wound care can help minimize discomfort, promote faster healing, and ensure the best cosmetic outcome.

What Are Dissolvable Stitches?

Dissolvable stitches, or absorbable sutures, are medical threads used to close wounds or surgical incisions. These stitches are made from biodegradable materials such as polyglycolic acid (PGA), polylactic acid (PLA), or polydioxanone (PDO). Unlike traditional sutures that need to be manually removed, dissolvable stitches are designed to degrade and be absorbed by the body over time naturally. The composition of dissolvable stitches allows them to break down gradually, eliminating the need for suture removal procedures and reducing the risk of tissue trauma.

Dissolvable stitches often appear as fine, translucent threads with a slightly rough texture. The texture may vary depending on the material used and the manufacturing process. While some dissolvable stitches may feel somewhat stiff or rough to the touch, others may have a smoother texture. Despite their appearance and texture, dissolvable stitches are designed to secure wound closure while gradually dissolving within the body.

How Long Do Dissolvable Stitches Take to Dissolve?

Factors Affecting Dissolution Time

The time it takes for dissolvable stitches to dissolve can vary depending on several factors:

Type of Material: Different materials used in dissolvable stitches have varying degradation rates. For example, polyglycolic acid (PGA) stitches dissolve faster than polydioxanone (PDO) stitches.

Location of the Wound: Wounds in areas with more movement or moisture may cause dissolvable stitches to dissolve more quickly due to increased exposure to bodily fluids and friction.

Size and Depth of the Wound: Larger or deeper wounds may require stronger stitches, which could take longer to dissolve than stitches used in smaller or shallower wounds.

Patient's Healing Process: Each individual's healing process is unique, and factors such as overall health, immune function, and circulation can influence how quickly dissolvable stitches break down.

Typical Dissolution Timeline

On average, dissolvable stitches may take one to eight weeks to dissolve completely. However, the exact timeline can vary based on the factors mentioned above. In most cases, dissolvable stitches placed in the skin or soft tissue will gradually degrade and be absorbed by the body over several weeks. Patients must follow their healthcare provider's instructions regarding wound care and follow-up appointments to monitor the healing process and ensure the stitches dissolve appropriately without complications.

General Care of Stitches

Keeping the Wound Clean and Dry

Proper wound care is essential to prevent infections and promote healing, especially when dealing with dissolvable stitches. To keep the wound clean and dry:

Wash Hands: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the wound or changing dressings to prevent introducing bacteria.

Gentle Cleansing: Clean the wound gently with mild soap and warm water, avoiding harsh scrubbing or rubbing, which can irritate the skin and disrupt the healing process.

Pat Dry: After cleaning, pat the wound dry with a clean, soft towel or allow it to air dry thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup, which can promote bacterial growth.

Avoiding Excessive Movement or Strain

Excessive movement or strain on the wound site can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of complications such as wound dehiscence or delayed healing. To minimize strain:

Limit Physical Activity: Avoid activities that may stress the wound site, such as heavy lifting, vigorous exercise, or repetitive movements that stretch or pull at the stitches.

Protect the Wound: If the wound is located in an area prone to friction or rubbing, consider covering it with a sterile, non-adhesive dressing or bandage to provide protection and support.

Monitoring for Signs of Infection

Vigilant monitoring for signs of infection is crucial during the healing process. Symptoms of a wound infection may include:

Increased Pain or Redness: Persistent or worsening pain and redness around the wound site may indicate an infection.

Swelling or Pus Drainage: Swelling, warmth, or yellow or green discharge (pus) from the wound may be signs of infection.

Fever or Chills: A fever or chills accompanied by other symptoms may indicate that the infection has spread beyond the wound site.

Foul Odor: A foul or unpleasant odor from the wound may also indicate an infection.

If any signs of infection are observed, it is essential to contact a healthcare provider promptly for further evaluation and treatment. Sometimes, an infection may require antibiotics or other interventions to prevent complications and promote healing.

Showering and Washing With Dissolvable Stitches

Guidelines for Showering with Dissolvable Stitches

When showering with dissolvable stitches, it's essential to follow these guidelines to minimize the risk of infection and ensure proper wound healing:

Avoid Direct Water Pressure: Direct water pressure from the showerhead can dislodge the stitches or disrupt the wound, so it's best to avoid spraying water directly on the stitched area.

Use Lukewarm Water: Opt for lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can increase blood flow to the wound area and potentially lead to bleeding or irritation.

Gently Pat Dry: After showering, gently pat the stitched area dry with a clean, soft towel. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing the wound, as this can cause irritation or damage to the stitches.

Tips for Keeping Stitches Dry During Washing

To keep dissolvable stitches dry during washing or showering:

Use Waterproof Dressings: Consider using waterproof dressings or bandages to cover the stitched area before washing. These dressings can help protect the wound from moisture and reduce the risk of infection.

Seal the Wound: If waterproof dressings are unavailable, use plastic wrap or a plastic bag to cover the stitched area before showering. Be sure to seal the edges securely to prevent water from seeping through.

Be Careful Around the Stitched Area: Avoid accidentally wetting the stitched area when washing other body parts. Use a gentle touch and avoid direct contact with the wound.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To prevent complications and ensure proper healing, avoid the following common mistakes when showering with dissolvable stitches:

Soaking the Wound: Avoid soaking the wound in water, such as baths or swimming, as prolonged exposure to water can soften the stitches and increase the risk of infection.

Using Harsh Cleansers: Avoid harsh soaps or cleansers on the stitched area, as these can irritate the skin and delay healing. Stick to mild, fragrance-free soaps and gently cleanse the area with lukewarm water.

Scrubbing or Rubbing: Refrain from scrubbing or rubbing the stitched area vigorously, as this can cause the stitches to loosen or the wound to reopen. Instead, pat the area dry gently with a towel.

By following these guidelines and tips for showering and washing with dissolvable stitches, you can help promote proper healing and reduce the risk of complications such as infection or wound dehiscence. If you have concerns or notice signs of infection, contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidance.


Understanding the care and management of dissolvable stitches is crucial for ensuring optimal wound healing and reducing the risk of complications such as infection. Proper wound care practices, including keeping the wound clean and dry, avoiding excessive movement, and monitoring for signs of infection, are essential throughout the healing process. Additionally, knowing when and how dissolvable stitches should be removed and following appropriate aftercare instructions can help promote successful wound closure and minimize the risk of complications. By adhering to these guidelines and seeking prompt medical attention if any concerns arise, individuals can support the healing process and achieve favorable outcomes after removing dissolvable stitches.

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