What to Know About Dissolvable Stitches

Follow these steps to allow for proper healing

Dissolvable stitches are stitches that dissolve as your body heals. They do not need to be removed. Most will begin to dissolve after a week or two, though some may take up to a few months to completely disappear.

Dissolvable stitches are also called absorbable stitches. They are made from unique materials that can remain in the body for an extended time.

This article explains when doctors might use dissolvable stitches and how to care for them.

Caring for Absorbable Stitches
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

What Are Dissolvable Stitches Used For?

Dissolvable stitches are an alternative to suture material, a sterile thread that is used to sew wounds closed. Suture material is commonly used to repair cuts. It is meant to stay in place for a week or two while the wound heals. A nurse or doctor then takes the stitches out to keep them from growing into new, healthy skin.

Dissolvable stitches don't have to be removed. They are made from a material that can be safely absorbed by the body during the healing process. This makes them ideal for closing surgical incisions in internal body parts. They can also be used to close external wounds, though not all external wounds are good candidates for dissolvable stitches.

How long does it take dissolvable stitches to disappear?

Dissolvable stitches vary widely in both strength and how long they take for your body to reabsorb them. Some types dissolve as quickly as 10 days, while others can take about six months to dissolve fully.

External Wounds

Most superficial cuts are repaired with non-dissolvable suture material. Non-dissolvable stitches are usually preferred for this type of injury because they're stronger than dissolvable stitches and won't come out before the healing process is complete.

Very deep wounds, however, are often better candidates for dissolvable stitches. In these cases, dissolvable stitches may be used to repair the deeper layers of tissue.

Surgical Incisions

When a surgeon makes an incision, they cut through more than the skin. They also cut through the fat underneath your skin and sometimes through muscle and other tissues.

Your surgeon may close the deeper parts of the incision with dissolvable stitches and then use more stitches on your skin's surface. They might also use another type of closure, such as adhesive strips or surgical skin glue.

The type of suture your doctor uses depends on a few things, including:

  • Your surgeon's preference
  • How strong the suture needs to be to support the incision properly
  • How quickly your body works to dissolve the material

Care of Dissolvable Stitches

If your dissolvable stitches are on your skin, cleaning them is easy. Cleaning tips for sutured skin include:

  • Clean from the center outward: The best way to clean your incision is to clean from the "dirtiest" part to the "cleanest" part. That usually means you should start at the center of your incision and move out.
  • Leave scabs alone: If you have scabs on your sutures, do not scrub them away. Scabs are typical and, while they may be annoying, they are a sign that your skin is healing.
  • Avoid creams and ointments: Do not use a cream or lotion on your wound unless your doctor has instructed you to.
  • Avoid soaking: In most cases, you'll be able to shower 24 hours after you receive your stitches, but you should avoid bathing and swimming until your incision is fully closed.
  • Be gentle: Gently wash your incision in the shower, just like you would wash any other part of your body. Use a mild soap and water to clean your incision.

You should never scrub your incision. Doing so can be very irritating to the healing skin. It can also make it harder for your wound to close.

Don't forget to inspect your wound daily for signs of infection or drainage from your injury. Signs of infection may include:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Discharge from the wound
  • Change in appearance

Avoid Peroxide

Research has shown that peroxide can reduce the strength of dissolvable sutures. Therefore, you should not clean most surgical incisions with hydrogen peroxide of any strength unless your surgeon specifically tells you to do so.

In addition to weakening the sutures, peroxide is too harsh for most incisions and can irritate. Using peroxide can sometimes lead to infection if you use it near your surgical site.

What if You Can Feel the Sutures?

Many people worry when they can feel their dissolvable stitches under their incision, even after it appears to have completely healed. Usually, this is not a cause for concern. It is normal to be able to feel internal sutures.

While most dissolvable stitches do absorb within about six months, there is a wide range of normal. For example, yours may be gone quicker, or they may take far longer to dissolve completely.

Feeling your stitches is not cause for alarm. Sometimes what you feel may not even be the sutures—it may also be feeling scar tissue, which is typical for a surgical incision.


Dissolvable stitches are a convenient way to suture wounds and incisions. Unlike regular stitches that require removal, your body absorbs dissolvable stitches so that they do not require removal.

To care for dissolvable stitches, wash with a gentle cleanser. Avoid scrubbing, picking at scabs, and hydrogen peroxide.

A Word From Verywell

Absorbable sutures are standard and very safe. The best part is there is no need for a follow-up procedure to remove the stitches once the wound heals. 

Dissolvable stitches aren't appropriate for every injury but are an excellent way to close many surgical incisions. If you wonder if dissolvable stitches are a good option for your wound or incision, ask your doctor about it.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Parell GJ, Becker GD. Comparison of absorbable with nonabsorbable sutures in closure of facial skin wounds. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2003;5(6):488-90. doi:archfaci.5.6.488

  2. Nicks BA, Ayello EA, Woo K, Nitzki-george D, Sibbald RG. Acute wound management: revisiting the approach to assessment, irrigation, and closure considerations. Int J Emerg Med. 2010;3(4):399-407. doi:10.1007/s12245-010-0217-5

  3. Stubsgaard AJ, Andresen K, Rosenberg J. [The optimal timing of suture removal depends on the anatomical location]. Ugeskr Laeg. 2015;177(45):V05150390.

  4. Lloyd JD, Marque MJ, Kacprowicz RF. Closure techniques. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2007;25(1):73-81. doi:10.1016/j.emc.2007.01.002

  5. Athre RS, Park J, Leach JL. The effect of a hydrogen peroxide wound care regimen on tensile strength of suture. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2007;9(4):281-4. doi:10.1001/archfaci.9.4.281

  6. Parell GJ, Becker GD. Comparison of absorbable with nonabsorbable sutures in closure of facial skin wounds. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2003;5(6):488-90. doi:10.1001/archfaci.5.6.488

Additional Reading

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.