Sutures are used to keep surgical or trauma wound edges together while the skin heals from the inside out. They allow for decreased infection rates and increased healing. Sutures are made of absorbable or non-absorbable materials; for the purpose of this article only sutures made of non-absorbable materials are mentioned. Do not remove surgical wound dressings until advised to do so by a physician or health care provider.
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Wash hands thoroughly before and after touching the wound to prevent infection. Wet hands with warm water and lather for at least 20 seconds. Rinse, then dry on a disposable towel.
Remove old bandages once advised to do so by the physician; dispose of them immediately. Cleanse the affected area using warm water and an antibacterial soap on a disposable cloth. Rinse with fresh water and a clean cloth. Repeat this step as necessary until all dried blood and secretions are removed, but be careful not to rub too vigorously. If the surgical dressings are no longer present, proceed to Step 3.
Look at the scar and give special attention to the edges, or where the skin healed together from the wound. A suture scar that is healing well should not have any drainage, open areas, redness or blisters. The holes on either side of the wound edge represent the suture marks and should be healing, devoid of redness, drainage or swelling.
Touch the area surrounding the wound gently. Warmth, pain and swelling are abnormal findings and do not indicate a well healing suture scar. Bruising may be normal, although bruising with raised, palpable borders is an abnormal finding.
Probe along the borders of the suture line gently, using a clean cotton swab. If the borders are approximated, or touching in all areas, this is a sign of a healing suture scar. Gaps or open areas are abnormal findings and must be reported to the physician. Eventually this line will become the actual scar and should fade to a pink, white or tan line dependent upon skin color.