How Long Should Facial Stitches Be Left In?

I just had a mole excised by a plastic surgeon today, and the nurse scheduled the appointment for the stitches to be removed in 12 days. Is 12 days too long to have facial stitches in?

Doctor Answers 6

How Long Should Stitches On The Face Be Left In

The timing of when stitches should be removed after surgery is often a hotly debated topic amongst surgeons. Some believe that leaving stitches in for too long can lead to worse scarring and the formation of track marks. Others feel that the development of scarring is directly related to how much tension the surgical wound is under, and leaving stitches in can help alleviate this tension. Depending on the surgical site and how the surgery was performed, stitches on the face can be left in anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks.

Austin Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews


Generally, stitches on the face should be removed 5-7 days from the day of the procedure.  12 days sounds a bit too long. 

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Suture removal on the face

Facial sutures generally are removed in 5-7 days. The concern with leaving them in longer is the development of suture marks ("cross hatches" along the length of the scar).

Kenneth P. Gilbert, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Removing facial stitches

In almost all cases, facial stitches should be removed in 5-7 days. This allows for full healing of the site. If the sutures are left in longer, you may have a tendency to get track marks - i.e., the suture lines left behind that show exactly where the sutures were. In 90% of the cases I take facial sutures out after 5-7 days; body sutures should be left in longer - usually about 7-10 days.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Suture removal in the face

While there is no absolute rule on when to remove stitches, generally facial sutures are removed by 5 to 7 days. If the incision has a lot of tension (is very tight), some surgeons will leave the sutures in longer. However, 12 days for suture removal may be a little long and runs the risk of leaving suture marks or "railroad track" scars. You should call your surgeon's office to have your concerns addressed.

Gregory J. Vipond, MD, FRCSC
Inland Empire Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

How Long to Leave in Facial Stitches (Sutures)

As a general rule, sutures on the face should be removed in 5-7 days. In my opinion leaving sutures on the face in for twelve days is too long. By seven days the wound has developed approximately 8% the tensile strength of intact skin. This is strong enough (along with any buried absorbable sutures) so that the non-absorbable sutures (the ones you can see) can be safely removed. Factors that increase the risk of suture marks after surgery include closure tension on the wound, caliber of the suture material and duration that sutures are left in. Perhaps the plastic surgeon used a fast absorbing suture material (e.g. Fast Absorbing Gut) as the material placed through the skin. This material breaks down spontaneously and doesn't need to be removed. Best option is to contact the doctor, discuss your concerns and have a discussion about the subject.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 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.