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Learning About Stitches and Staples Removal

When are stitches and staples removed?

Your doctor will tell you when to have your stitches or staples removed, usually in 7 to 14 days. How long you'll be told to wait will depend on things like where the wound is located, how big and how deep the wound is, and what your general health is like. Do not remove the stitches on your own.

Stitches on the face are usually removed within a week. But stitches and staples on other areas of the body, such as on the back or belly or over a joint, may need to stay in place longer, often a week or two. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

How are stitches and staples removed?

It usually doesn't hurt when the doctor removes the stitches or staples. You may feel a tug as each stitch or staple is removed.

  • You will either be seated or lying down.
  • To remove stitches, the doctor will use scissors to cut each of the knots and then pull the threads out.
  • To remove staples, the doctor will use a tool to take out the staples one at a time.
  • The area may still feel tender after the stitches or staples are gone. But it should feel better within a few minutes or up to a few hours.

What can you expect after stitches and staples are removed?

Depending on the type and location of the cut, you will have a scar. Scars usually fade over time. Keep the area clean, but you won't need a bandage.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new pain, or your pain gets worse.
  • You have trouble moving the area near the scar.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the scar.
    • Red streaks leading from the scar.
    • Pus draining from the scar.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The scar opens.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you do not get better as expected. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.