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Dissolvable Stitches

Dissolvable Stitches

Use of dissolvable stitches for sewing up wound openings has gained immense popularity due to the several advantages associated with them. Read this article to gather more information about them.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Stitches are often referred to as sutures. They are used to join tissues together to close cuts, wounds, or surgical incisions. They are being widely used by obstetricians, dentists, oral surgeons, plastic surgeons, and so on. There are 2 different types of stitches, namely, non-dissolvable (or non-absorbable) stitches and dissolvable (or absorbable) stitches. In regular stitches, each and every individual stitch has to be removed manually from the body by the physician. While in absorbable stitches, there is no need to remove them. Another advantage is that they can be used for both external as well as internal wounds.
What are Dissolvable Stitches?

➜ These stitches are made from substances that can be easily broken down and absorbed by the body. When the suture materials come in contact with internal tissues, our body treats them as a waste product.
➜ The enzymes of our body then process them chemically so that they get dissolved and absorbed into the body. The commonly used natural materials are silk, hair, and processed collagen. Sometimes, easily absorbable synthetic materials are also used for this purpose.
➜ There are 2 important features of dissolvable stitch materials. One is the elasticity or the tensile strength of the material and the other is the durability. Every part of our body requires a suture material of different tensile strength.
➜ For instance, the stitches on the knees should be more elastic as compared to those used in the forearm. This is because the knee region will be stretched more than the forearm. On the other hand, the healing time for a deep cut is going to be more, hence the stitching material used should have a slow decomposition rate.
➜ Whereas the absorption of stitches for a simple cut in the tissue, for a plastic surgery, should be faster so that minimum scarring occurs.
How Long do Dissolvable Stitches Take to Dissolve?

The time taken by the stitches to get decomposed into the body depends on the kind of material used in making the suture. The rate of decomposition and tensile strength of 4 most popularly used dissolvable stitch materials are as follows:
► Catgut Suture
This is a natural substance and is obtained by processing the collagen that is found in the intestines of various animals, like sheep, goat, and dogs. After exposure to the body tissue, this material can retain its tensile strength for around 7 - 10 days. It will get decomposed within a time span of 60 days. Sometimes, catgut sutures are treated with chromium salts in order to slow down the rate of decomposition and prolong its lifespan. This suture material is known as chromic catgut suture. Usually, it is used in those cases where the surgeon feels that the wound may not get healed by the time the sutures are absorbed into the body.
Polydioxanone Suture
This is an artificially made suture material that contains polymer molecules. The inherent tensile strength of this material can be retained in the body for a long period of time, for about 42 days. Even complete absorption of the material into the body usually takes about 180 - 210 days. Hence, it is used in those surgeries where the healing time is long.
Poliglecaprone 25
This is another man-made substance used for stitching wounds. It can sustain its tensile strength for 3 weeks and the absorption time varies between 90 to 120 days.
Polyglactin 910 Suture
This is a synthetic material, and it consists of acid polymer molecules. Its rate of decomposition varies between 60 - 90 days. Its tensile strength will remain intact for around 21 days.
Sometimes, it may happen that these stitches do not dissolve at the expected time. It mainly happens because a part of the stitch remains outside the body. Then, that part of the stitch is not exposed to the enzyme because of which it cannot undergo decomposition. However, it is not a matter of concern and can be removed by the surgeon manually after the wound gets healed.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.