Why Are My External Stitches Flaking Away or Dissolving? (photo)

I have already asked this question, but am asking it again. I see my surgeon on Monday because the stitches are flaking away or dissolving and he stated that they should not and that he would have to remove them. That’s why he wants to see me to see why my stitches are coming apart in the fold. So my question is, is this method wrong? Do surgeons use external stitches seen by all to recreate the antihelix or the fold. I saw his portfolio of past otoplasty work was happy with it. Not sure now.

Doctor Answers 5

Sutures on Anterior Surface after Otoplasty

   The surgeon said that the stitches would be removed in the office, and I would not anticipate any problems with having had them placed temporarily. I do not use this technique, but the sutures should not leave any marks if removed early enough.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Alternative operations for an otoplasty

When I perform an otoplasty the incision is generally placed in the crease behind the ear and the sutures used to create the antihelical fold are done from the back side of the ear.  This is called a Mustarde type suture.  It is possible that your surgeon scored the anterior edge of the cartialge and then secured the fold with external sutures.  While I am not familiar with this technique it does not mean that it is incorrect.  Your surgeon should be able to educate you about the surgical technique as well as the success rate for this type of otoplasty.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Ear tucks and stich placement

There is more than one way to do almost any operation and a particular approach isn't right or wrong.  In the photo I see some marks that are presumably sutures.  I would suspect that these are extra outside stitches to bolster, or help hold the ones on the inside, while the early healing occurs.  If they come out early, no marks will remain.

Go in to see your surgeon to discuss your concerns and get the details as to his or her technique and the rationale behind it.  It looks like so far things are going ok.

Best of luck!

Deborah Ekstrom, MD
Worcester Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 39 reviews


Creating the antihelix fold is usually done by sutures in the cartilage from the back of the ear under the skin.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Otoplasty with exposed sutures

I am not familiar with a technique that intentionally leaves sutures exposed. These sutures are usually buried. Perhaps these are meant as temporary reinforcements, in which case they should not be left in too long out of fear of creating suture marks.  Discuss with your surgeon, the alternative could be that the sutures penetrated through the skin by accident.  

Arthur N. Falk, MD
Albany Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.