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Spitting a stitch

Kerplooey!

What is spitting a stitch?
I know. There are things which seem so normal to us surgeons, which the normal patient looks at and thinks, “What?!”
We surgeons sew. We stitch a lot.  When we put the breast together after a lift or do a tummy tuck, we sew you back together with sometimes hundresds of sutures which you don’t see.  We close your skin like layers on a cake, aligning each layer.  The deep sutures are primarily dissolving ones.  Your body slowly, over the course of months when your tissue has healed together, dissolves the internal sutures. 

Ah. But here is the rub.  Sometimes instead of dissolving the sutures, your body will push the foreign object (suture) out of your body.  When it does this, we call it spitting a stitch.  It will feel like a little bump, maybe be a little red, almost like a zit.  The the top may open with a little discharge (which looks like a small dab of “pus”- most likely just white blood cells and other things) and you will see a little fishing line sticking out.  Usually this happens along your suture line (incision/ scar).

That is your suture.

If it does spit, it is not a big deal. You likely have hundreds of internal sutures. If you can grab it with tweezers, give it a gentle pull. If it doesn’t come out you can clip the part sticking out with a nail clipper.  Clean the area with a little alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and then apply polysporin.  If the area looks irritated, is getting worse, or there is red skin around it, then you should see your doctor. 

It is a common part of healing.  Just weird.  Certain sutures do it more often (so I try to avoid those), and some people are prone to it (guess their skin just likes to spit).  Again, the key is keep it clean, no infection, and get the irriation to stop.

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Please keep in mind: subjects covered in this blog and certain tips and advice are not substitutes for professional medical advice. This blog is for general informational purposes only. If you are considering plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, or cosmetic enhancement, you should always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon and/or your general practitioner in-person for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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Lauren Greenberg M.D.

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