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How long do stitches take to dissolve after birth?

One question women who have had stitches ask frequently is whether they will need to return to hospital to have their perineum stitches removed. Thankfully modern medical technology now means that most stitches are dissolvable and will simply fade away as your wound heals. This is great news for busy new mums as it means that they don’t have to worry about making additional hospital appointments for the removal of stitches – or that “ouch” moment when they are pulled out!

So how are dissolvable stitches created and how long do stitches take to dissolve after birth? Here are some key facts you need to know about dissolvable stitches and how they work.

What are dissolvable stitches and how are they made?

Dissolvable stitches usually start to lose their strength within 60 days. They are dissolved by one of two different methods. The first is that the enzymes that are present in your body tissue cause them to dissolve alternatively a chemical reaction with the water that is in your body causes them to dissolve – this is called hydrolysis. Dissolvable stitches can be made of either polyglactin or polyglycolic acid.

How long do stitches take to dissolve after birth?

How long stitches take to dissolve after birth can vary depending on what compound the stitches are made out of. Most perineum stitches start to dissolve after around 4 weeks but some can take up to 6 months to fully fade away. Ideally the stitches will start to dissolve as your wound heals, however if you find that your wound is healing well and the stiches are still there or they are starting to itch or cause you discomfort then visit your GP or health visitor and they will be able to remove them for you.

Can dissolvable stitches still become infected?

Unfortunately whilst there are lots of benefits to dissolvable stitches you can still get infected stitches if they are used on your wound. This means that you still need to keep an eye out for the signs of infected stitches such as redness, pus or discharge, swelling and pain and see your GP straight away if you think your stitches have become infected.

How can I look after dissolvable stitches?

If you have had a perineum tear or episiotomy which required stitches it is important to look after the stitches and the wound area properly to allow them to heal quickly and prevent infection. It’s vital to keep the area clean especially as urine and faeces can carry harmful bacteria. It’s not practical to take a bath every time you pop to the loo so the innovative award winning Femette is a great way to look after your perineal area and keep your stitches clean after going to the toilet. Salt baths and witch hazel gel have antiseptic and soothing properties which can also help to keep your stiches un-infected and trouble free, but you should always check with your mid-wife before using anything but water in the bath, to ensure it is safe for you.

If you have any further questions about dissolvable stitches and how long stitches take to dissolve after birth then ask your doctor, midwife of health visitor and they will be happy to help.

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