How To Remove Stitches

Stitches or sutures are either classified as absorbable or nonabsorbable. In many cases, absorbable sutures are used for internal stitching or deep wounds. The material used in absorbable sutures is specially designed to break down over time and dissolve without medical intervention. Because nonabsorbable sutures will not dissolve on their own, they must be removed.

The process to remove nonabsorbable sutures is quite simple. It is often performed in a doctor’s office, however the steps for removing stitches at home are outlined below.

Gather Materials

Sharp scissors are required for removal. Surgical scissors are ideal, however, nail trimmers or clippers may also be used. Gather tweezers, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and adhesive bandages or strips. It may also be helpful to have an antibiotic ointment.


Once a pot of clean water is brought to a rapid boil, place all metal utensils inside for a few minutes. Carefully remove the utensils and place them on a clean paper towel to dry. Use rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to clean the tips of the materials.

Clean and Sterilize Suture Site

Use warm soapy water to clean the area which contains the stitches. Thoroughly dry it using a clean towel. Place rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab and gently dab it on the area around the stitches.


Complete the removal in area which is well lit so you can clearly see the stitches. If the stitches located in an area which is difficult to see or reach, ask a friend or family member for assistance. It may also be necessary to schedule an appointment with the doctor for removal of the stitches.

Removing the Stitches

Using the clean tweezers, grasp the stiches and gently pull up on each knot. Slip the tip of the scissors into the loop, and snip the stitch. Gently pull on the thread to slip the suture out through the skin. A slight pressure may be felt during the removal, but it should not result in pain. It is important to not pull the knot through the skin as this can be quite painful and cause the skin to bleed.


If there is bleeding during the removal process, do not proceed. If the removal causes a wound to open up, apply an adhesive bandage and follow up with the doctor’s office for further instruction.


Once every stitch is removed, use an alcohol-soaked cotton ball to thorough clean the wound area. An antibiotic ointment can also be applied to the area.

Wound Protection

It is important to protect the wound area as it continues to heal following the removal of stitches. Adhesive strips can be applied across the wound to give it extra support and prevent it from reopening. These strips can remain in place until they naturally fall off or remove them after two weeks. They can be soaked in warm water to help loosen them and allow for easier removal.

The skin located around an incision is quite weak while it heals. Fortunately, it will regain its strength over time. The area can be protected by covering it with a bandage for about a week. The wound can easily swell, bleed, or break open during the healing process, so high-contact activities should be avoided.

Once the stitches are removed, it is important to keep the wound clean and dry. Do not get the wound dirty as this could result in an infection. Avoid exposing the wound to direct sunlight which can cause scarring. Because the skin around the incision is quite sensitive during the healing process, it can burn more easily.

When Should I Get My Stitches or Sutures Removed?