Caring for Sutures
So your surgery is over and you've been sent home with sutures. Be prepared to handle the site with care. These sutures will be with you for at least a few days, depending on your situation and the area of the body that's affected. It's extremely important that you follow all your surgeon's instructions on how to care for the site to ensure proper healing and minimal scarring.
Here's How To Ensure Proper Healing:
- Avoid water or other moisture the first 24 hours
- After that time has passed, you can begin washing it with soap and water (very gently), up to two times per day
- Your surgeon can prescribe an antibiotic ointment. You will want to apply this to the site after washing.
- You will need to have your sutures removed on the day designated by your surgeon. It's very important that you adhere to this, because leaving the sutures in longer than needed can cause unnecessary scarring.
What To Watch For:
- Redness that goes beyond the basic edge of the wound
- Fever over 100 degrees (sign of an infection)
- Any unusual coloring or discharge, including pus
- Unusual tenderness or swelling. Remember, you will experience the most tenderness in the second day, but it should subside each day thereafter. If there is any indication that this is not happening, contact your doctor.
- Stitches that come out sooner than expected. If this happens, contact your doctor immediately.
Even after you have your stitches removed, it's crucial to care for the site with an ointment or cream that your surgeon can recommend. Protect the site from any unnecessary injury for at least four weeks following stitch removal.
If you have stitches that dissolve, make sure you understand exactly when they should dissolve and how to care for the site during and after that period.