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Does Removing Stitches Hurt?

Do you have a follow up appointment for suture removal coming up soon? You're probably anxious about whether or not it's going to hurt because you had to endure injections with local anesthetics prior to having them put in.


blood dyed stitches
blood dyed stitches

However, we're to tell you that all of your worries are for naught. The removal of stitches should be near painless but it may feel a little "weird" as they come out. Overall it should be a much more pleasant and quicker experience than when you had them put in.


Let us explain why that is the case but before that, you should know that what we're talking about applies to all types of stitches.


Table of contents:


Why taking out stitches doesn't hurt

The stitches removal should not be painful because there are no needles involved and numbing is unnecessary. Although if you've never had it done before, it may be a little hard to believe which is why we'll convince you below.


stitches in extraction socket

No sharp objects involved

The removal process for stitches does not require any sharp objects to be in contact with your body. All your doctor needs to do is simply snip the stitch near the surgical knot and then pull the whole thread out. That entire process did not involve any sharp metal objects piercing your skin.


If you think about it, it'll make sense. Simply look at your stitches, it's just a soft thread like material. Basically you'll be pulling out the soft thread which is harmless to your body.


A great analogy would be taking off a piercing on your ear or any other body part for that matter. Does it hurt to remove the piercing? It doesn't right. The same thing could be said for taking out the sutures, it simply slides right out without much resistance.



Essentially the piercing or suture is an object that was put through your body. You're reversing the process by taking that object back out of your body. Have we convinced you yet?


Anesthesica is unnecessary

The suture removal does not require any numbing at all. There will be no injections nor will there be any numbing gel because none of them are necessary. You don't need it because it is not supposed to hurt when you take them out.


benzocaine

In our experience, we've never had to numb any of patients while removing their wisdom teeth stitches nor their facial laceration ones. It has always been a pain-free experience and all the patients leave the appointment as a happy camper.


What to expect for suture removal

The appointment for taking them out should be very quick, 5-10 minutes at most. There will be no numbing involved, which saves you a lot of time because your doctor doesn't have to wait for the anesthesia to kick in.


How to take stitches out:

  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.


That's basically it: grab, lift, snip, and pull. You just repeat that for each stitch until all of it is out. We just want to reiterate that it should be a very fast process that is painless.


If you're a visual learner, we've created a video that demonstrates the entire stitches removal process and what to expect. Watch below.



What does removing stitches feel like?

While the stitches are coming out, it won't hurt but it will give you a little bit of a weird sensation. It'll feel like a slight pulling or tugging sensation that can be a little ticklish. It literally feels like something is sliding along your skin.


In comparison, removing band aids actually hurt a lot more than taking the sutures out. The adhesive from the bandage sticks to the skin and doesn't want to come off. The threads from the suture don't stick to your skin. That should give you a general idea of how bad it can be.


Will it bleed as it comes out?

By the time the stitches are ready to come out, the wound should've been fully healed so there won't be bleeding. It should be a an uneventful experience but you can let out a sigh since it marks the end of your surgical journey.


However if you do notice blood come out during the suture removal, it may be an indication of an ongoing infection. You should ask your doctor why it may be bleeding. Or perhaps it wasn't ready to be removed yet.


Only putting in stitches hurt

Unlike the removal process which is painless, the only time stitches hurt is when you're having them put in. That is the reason why your doctor has to numb the area prior to placing them.


stitched up facial laceration
stitched up facial laceration

If you were wondering why it hurts putting them in, it is because there is a needle attached to the end of the stitch. That needle helps to thread the soft suture material through your skin. Without the sharp metal needle, the stitches would not be able to pierce through the skin.


After the wound has been completely closed, the metal needle gets cut off with scissors. That way you're not walking around with any sharp objects embedded in your body. The entire concept is akin to sewing fabric. The fabric is threaded through a needle, which is used to pierce through clothing. Without the needle, you won't be able to sew anything!


Takeaway

In summary, the process of removing stitches shouldn't hurt, it'll be a near painless appointment. You will however feel a weird tugging or sliding sensation along your skin as it comes out. You can even describe it as a ticklish feeling.


If it's any consolation, you should know that taking off bandages is more painful in comparison. The sutures don't have any pesky adhesive that sticks to your skin and refuses to let go. Most people bear through the band aid removal without any numbing and therefore you won't need any either.


Now there is absolutely nothing for you to be worried about anymore so get going to your stitches removal appointment pronto!

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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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