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Do I have to get my stitches taken out

Dr. John T. Smith

University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

I place all of the sutures beneath the skin and therefore, they dissolve on their own. There are usually no stitches to take out.

Dr. W. Christopher Urban

Glen Burnie, MD

Whether your stitches have to be taken out or not depends on the type of suture your surgeon uses to close the incision. Non-absorbable sutures or staples are typically removed 7-14 days after surgery. Absorbable sutures are placed beneath the skin and do not require removal.

Dr. David W. Polly, Jr.

Minneapolis, MN

Taking out the stitches depends on what kind are used. I usually use the absorbable ones under the skin that do not have to be removed. But then I use paper tape strips (called steri strips) over top which usually say on 2-3 weeks.

Dr. Robert W. Molinari

Rochester, NY

No. The suture is done with a special stitch that dissolves in the body and does not require removal.

Dr. Frank J. Schwab

New York, NY

Often with scoliosis surgery, the stitches, which are placed at the time of surgery, are internal and absorbable. Therefore, they usually do not need to be removed. If external sutures are used they will be removed approximately two weeks after surgery.

Dr. Michael F. O'Brien

Denver Orthopaedics

No. Generally we used absorbable sutures under the skin. The only thing that you will find on the surface of your skin after surgery are small pieces of paper tape which assist in keeping the very superficial layer of the skin closed to allow cosmetic healing.

Dr. Thomas G. Lowe

Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.

No. We use dissolvable stitches that are underneath the skin. The only thing that needs to be removed are small little paper tapes on the skin that generally wash off taking a shower.

Dr. Patrick Bosch

Albuquerque, NM

Typically, spinal incisions are closed with subcuticular (under the skin) sutures. They do not need to be removed, and will dissolve as the tissue heals.

Dr. Scott J. Luhmann

St. Louis, MO

No. All the sutures, or stitches, used in surgery are placed under the skin, dissolve and are absorbed by the body.

Dr. Stephen Ondra

Chicago, IL

In some patients, stitches are all placed below the skin and require no removal. In some older individuals, especially at the part of the wound between the shoulder blades where the shoulders pull, we get better cosmetic results when we use stitches or staples. These are removed 1-2 weeks following surgery.

Dr. John P. Lubicky

Chicago, IL
Shriner's Hospital for Children

Typically for most scoliosis surgery, the sutures used to close the skin are absorbable and underneath the skin. They do not need to be taken out. In certain situations, either skin staples or non-absorbable sutures are placed in the skin, and those are typically taken out about two weeks after the surgery.

Dr. Robert S. Pashman

Los Angeles, CA

I do not use external sutures, so they do not need to be taken out. I use dissolvable sutures placed underneath the skin.

Dr. Baron S. Lonner

New York, NY

No. We use dissolvable stitches that are placed under the skin and do not require removal.

Dr. James Mooney, III

Detroit, MI

In most cases, the sutures are beneath the skin and do not need to be removed and dissolve on their own.

Dr. Dennis G. Crandall

Mesa, AZ

We use self dissolving stitches, so nothing needs to come out.

Dr. Charles E. Johnston, II

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group

Not if you have buried stitches which will dissolve and don't need removal.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

  • Published: June 20, 2002
  • Updated: April 19, 2010