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Do Stitches Hurt?

Getting stitches should not hurt if you are properly anesthetized and the most that you'd feel is pushing pressure from the suture sliding through the skin. This holds true whether you're getting wisdom teeth stitches or extraoral stitches such as on your face like below.


Stitches on side of forehead
Stitches on side of forehead

Getting stitches


tooth extraction sutures
tooth extraction sutures

When stitches are painless

When you are adequately numb, having stitches put in should be a painless process. That means as long as you get enough anesthesia prior to closing up the wound, it should not hurt at all.



As with any surgical procedure being done on your body, hand surgery, laceration repair, or even getting your wisdom teeth removed, being numb will make it a pain-free. Getting sutures is no exception to the rule.


What does it feel like?

The local anesthesia will block all pain signals so even though your doctor is working on you, you won't feel a thing. Even though we say that, you will feel a sensation but it just won't be an uncomfortable one.


The sensations you may feel during the procedure:

  • Pushing. As the needle at the end of the suture pierces through your skin you will feel it pushing through. It won't be painful but you will feel it moving through the skin or gums.

  • Sliding. After the needle pierces through, your doctor will pull the rest of the thread through. It is during this motion that you'll feel something sliding through your body. It won't hurt but you'll know something is moving through.

  • Non-sharp. You may feel pushing and sliding sensations but none of them should feel sharp. You should be adequately numb for the entire procedure so it won't hurt at all. Feeling pressure is normal but sharpness won't be one of them.



When stitches can be painful

The two instances where sutures can be painful is when there is inadequate anesthesia and also during the administration of anesthetic.


Inadequate anesthesia

Getting the stitches put it will be painful if you're not numb enough. That can happen if your doctor doesn't give you enough local anesthetic to sufficiently numb the area.


It will hurt because in order to stitch the wound back up, the thread is attached to a needle at one end. It is the needle which pierces through the skin to facilitate the thread going through.


purple stitches and gold stitches side by side

Now imagine a sharp metal needle puncturing through your skin when you're not numb. You can already anticipate the pain can't you?


Administration of anesthetic

Getting sutures put in is typically pain-free because you'll be numb but don't forget that in order to get numb, you do need an injection. It is the via the injection that administers the numbing agent to make the suturing process painless.


As with all injections with needles, that initial puncture with the needle does cause some discomfort. Therefore some discomfort is to be expected prior to the actual closing up of the wound!


Does it hurt while having sutures?

The good news is that after the sutures have been put in, they typically do not cause any pain while you're healing. That means you can go about your business for the next week or two without any expectations for discomfort.


Although some of our patients do report that the stitches can feel itchy at times while its healing. That is normal and is a part of the healing process. Please do not scratch or play around with them.


Exception

With that being said, they shouldn't cause any discomfort under normal circumstances but if they get infected, it can be painful. If your sutures do feel painful you may want to get them checked out to make sure they aren't infected.


Does it hurt to have sutures removed?

The stitches removal process should be painless because there are no sharp objects involved. Well there will be scissors but it won't be touching your skin at all.


What to expect during the removal process:

  1. Grab the stitch near the knot with college pliers.

  2. Lift it up 1-2mm.

  3. Snip underneath of the knot with surgical scissors.

  4. Pull the suture out.


The entire procedure should be fairly quick, taking 5-10 minutes at most.


What about dissolvable stitches?

The follow up appointment for suture removal only applies for non-dissolvable ones. Since they do not dissolve, they need to be physically taken back out.


If you have the dissolving ones, you don't actually need an appointment to have them taken out. If you give them enough time, they should fall out all on their own.


Takeaway

When you're adequately numb, getting the stitches put in should cause you zero pain. However it will be painful if you didn't get enough anesthesia because the procedure does involve piercing through the skin with a needle.


Last but not least don't forget that prior to starting the procedure you do need to be anesthetized. That means you will receive injections to administer the anesthetic. That portion of the visit will cause some discomfort. That about wraps up everything that our dentists in Long Island City have to say about this topic.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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