How Long Until Absorbable Stitches Dissolve and How I Use Them?

I use many different types of sutures depending on procedure type and location, including absorbable sutures. How long an absorbable suture lasts depends almost completely on the material the suture is made from as they are engineered to persist for various amounts of time (days to months). Fast absorbing gut is one of the most commonly used sutures for eyelid (extremely thin skin) surgery or other facial areas where tension has been relieved by additional sutures beneath the skin surface or with additional permanent suture that must be removed later by your surgeon. It usually lasts 5-7 days before losing structural integrity, becoming increasingly brittle, and flaking off. I advise patients to keep these sutures lubricated with Aquaphor, antibiotic ointment, or simply petroleum jelly until I see the patient back for removal and post operative surveillance.

If you have absorbing sutures in your skin for >10 days, the risk of “train track” scarring increases. I see patients back in my office at most 10 days following surgery and remove sutures as soon as I am confident they’re no longer needed to minimize this risk.

Here is a link with a rough suture absorption chart that also demonstrates the scar that can occur if absorbable sutures are not combined with deep dermal sutures AND non-removable supporting epidermal (skin) sutures (like nylon or prolene), in an area with even slight tension (cheek laceration).

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