How to Remove Sutures

Amanda Thomas Jun 1, 2024
Suture Materials on a White Background

Removing sutures (stitches) is a fundamental skill every nurse must master.

It’s not just about removing the sutures themselves but also about understanding the type of suture pattern used, which can influence the removal process. In this article, we’ll teach you how to remove sutures and help you gain confidence in the process.

Whether you’re dealing with a simple interrupted suture or a more complex pattern, you’ll find the information you need here.

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  1. Steps to Removing Sutures
  2. Suture Types & Patterns

Steps to Removing Sutures

First things first, you need permission from a physician to remove them.

Once you have clearance, follow these steps on how to remove sutures safely:

  1. Prepare the client. Explain the suture removal process to the client, ensuring they are comfortable and understand what to expect. Reassure them and address any concerns they may have.
  1. Gather supplies. Before beginning, ensure you have all necessary supplies: antiseptic wipes, dressing change tray, sterile gloves, sterile suture removal kit (scissors and forceps), antiseptic wipes, and Steri-Strips or bandages.
  1. Prepare the area: Wash your hands thoroughly and put on sterile gloves. Clean the wound area with antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection.
  1. Inspect the sutures: Check the wound and sutures for signs of infection or complications. If the wound appears red, swollen, or discharged, consult a healthcare provider (HCP) before proceeding.
  1. Lift the knot: Using forceps, gently grasp the knot of the suture. Lift it slightly to expose the portion of the suture beneath the skin.
  1. Cut the suture: Gently grasp the knot of the suture with the forceps and cut it close to the skin with sterile scissors.
  1. Pull the suture out: Carefully pull the suture out using the forceps. If there’s resistance, make sure you’re not pulling against an uncut suture strand.
  1. Repeat as needed: Continue the process for each suture. Take your time to avoid causing discomfort or damage to the wound.
  1. Clean the area: After removing all sutures, clean the area with antiseptic.
  1. Apply adhesive strips: Do this if the wound requires additional support.
  1. Document the procedure: Record the procedure details, including the number of sutures removed and the condition of the wound.

Suture Types & Patterns

Understanding different suture types and patterns is crucial for effective suture removal.

Each pattern has its specific uses and removal techniques.

Here are some common suture patterns a nurse might encounter:

Continuous Blanket Suture (Continuous Lock Stitch)

The continuous blanket suture involves a series of stitches where the suture thread is passed continuously along the wound.

Often used for long, straight wounds, this pattern provides even tension.

Horizontal Mattress Suture

This suture pattern involves placing stitches deep into the tissue perpendicular to the wound.

Often used for high-tension areas, it provides strong wound closure. This type of suture requires careful cutting and removal to avoid leaving any part of it behind.

Interrupted Cruciate Suture (Cross or Figure-Eight)

Use the interrupted cruciate suture for added strength in wound closure.

Each stitch crosses over the wound, providing secure closure while allowing flexibility in the skin.

Simple Continuous Suture

A simple continuous suture involves a single thread running along the wound with multiple stitches.

This pattern is efficient for wounds that require quick closure. To remove, cut each suture segment individually to avoid pulling the entire thread through the skin.

Simple Interrupted Suture

The simple interrupted suture is the most common and involves individual stitches tied separately.

This pattern is easy to place and remove, making it ideal for many wound types. Each suture is cut and removed one at a time.

Vertical Mattress Suture

Nurses place vertical mattress sutures with deep and superficial stitches.

This provides excellent wound eversion and closure strength. HCPs Use this pattern for deeper wounds.

Removing sutures is a crucial skill for nursing students, requiring knowledge and practice. By understanding the different suture types and following the correct removal steps, nurses can ensure client safety and promote optimal wound healing.

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