Many patients who have sutures placed for the first time wonder, “is it going to hurt to get these taken out?” In fact, I’ve found some patients really agonize over the anticipation of suture removal, especially in the pediatric population.
Hopefully the 2 minute video above demonstrating simple interrupted suture removal answers these questions for you, but if you are more of a reader-type, read on!
Does suture removal hurt?
No! (Generally speaking.) Properly applied sutures are easily removed. Although the process of removal can be felt, it is rarely painful. Exceptions can occur if a suture has been left in too long; if an infection has developed around the suture; or if a part of the suture (such as the knot) has granulated in to the healing tissue (shouldn’t occur with a properly placed suture).
Is anesthetic (numbing medicine) used?
Generally speaking, no, because suture removal isn’t really painful. Typically the pain of the injection of anesthesia (which you may have experienced while your wound was being cleaned and closed) exceeds any discomfort caused by suture removal, so it just isn’t worth it.
If it doesn’t hurt, and it is as simple as you say, can I take out my sutures at home by myself?
This is not my medical recommendation. While the process of suture removal, as shown in the video above, is simple enough, the decision to remove them is a different story. It is better to have your wound evaluated by a trained professional prior to having the sutures removed. In some cases, even if the advised duration of suture placement has passed, the wound may not be ready to have the sutures come out–and doing so can put the wound at risk of dehiscence (opening up). The provider may opt to have you come back in 1-2 days. Physicians/nurses/physician assistants have additional means to reinforce a wound when the sutures absolutely need to come out (for example, reinforcing the wound with surgical tape strips) but this needs to be done at the time the sutures are removed.
You can read more about aftercare advice for a sutured, stapled, taped or glued wound here.
Don’t worry! If a 3 year old can handle it smiling, so can you.