Can Stitches Stay in Too Long?

This article will review frequently asked questions and details regarding stitches and staples. Stitches and staples are often used to close wounds during the healing process. In most cases, the stitches or staples should be removed within about 4 days to two weeks. The specific amount of time for removal is dependent on where the stitches or staples are located. It is important not to delay the removal as it can result in scarring and other complications.

Based on the location of the stitches or staples, below are the guidelines of when they should be removed. Always follow the doctor’s guidelines as the recommended removal times may vary.

  • Arms and backs of hands: 7 days
  • Chest, stomach, or back: 7-10 days
  • Face: 4-5 days
  • Fingers or toes: 10-14 days
  • Legs or tops of feet: 10 days
  • Neck: 7 days
  • Over a joint: 12-14 days
  • Palms or soles: 12-14 days
  • Scalp: 7-10 days

Some of the most common reasons why skin around the sutures or staples may feel numb include:

  1. Local Anesthesia: In order to make the skin numb, the doctor may inject local anesthesia. This ensures there is no pain when the sutures or staples are placed. The duration of numbness is dependent on the type and amount of local anesthesia which was used. In most cases, the numbness should last about 1-8 hours.
  2. Cut Numbness: Some patients experience numbness after they get a cut. There is often numbness right along the edges of the wound itself. This type of numbness will usually last about one to three weeks. The tiny nerves typically grow back within a few weeks and the numbness will go away.
  3. Nerve Injury: In some cases, the cut is deep enough to sever a larger nerve. This is likely when the numbness occurs in area outside the wound and that lasts more than 8 hours. Patients who have a possible nerve damage should talk to their doctor about it right away.

It is important to remove the stitches or staples in the recommended time frame from the doctor. Failure to do so can result in complications. When stitches are left in for too long, it can result in marks on the skin and in some cases, result in scarring. Delay the removal of stitches can also make it more challenging to remove the stitches.

In the event the stitches or staples come out earlier than expected, there is a possibility that wound may reopen. The wound can be reinforced using skin tape or a butterfly adhesive bandage. If the stitches or staples fall out before their intended removal, follow up with your doctor right away.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after receiving stitches or staples, contact your doctor:

  • Bleeding at the wound site
  • Fever
  • Pain or tenderness at the wound site becomes worse after 48 hours
  • Stitches or staples fall out early or are damaged
  • Wound is red, puffy, or appears to be infected


Following a cut or wound, scarring is part of the natural healing process. In the event of a serious injury or larger wound, there is a higher risk for scarring. There will typically be scarring any time stitches, staples, or skin glue is used. Some people scar more easily based on their genetics, age and skin type.

In order to prevent unnecessary scarring, it is important to get the stitches removed based on the doctor’s recommendation. When the stitches are left in for too long, it can result in marks and scars. It is also important to protect the skin and avoid a sunburn near the wound area for at least two months. The wound should also be protected in order to avoid re-injuring the area.

How to Remove Stitches or Sutures?