What Happens when Otoplasty Stitches Are Left in Too Long?

I'm having my otoplasty stitches removed exactly 21 days after surgery. They're not infected, only a little sore. will removing them after waiting so long be very painful?

Doctor Answers 6

Otoplasty sutures in too long?

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The deep sutures placed in otoplasty to reshape the cartilage are usually permanent, so they are never removed. Skin sutures, on the other hand, are usually removed in about a week. Often, I will use dissolvable skin sutures, but will still remove them after a week or so. Leaving sutures in for too long can lead to unfavorable scarring.

Fort Lauderdale Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Otoplasty Suture Removal Timing

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Otoplasty involves two sets of sutures.  There are sutures in the cartilage which are under the skin and will remain in your ears for the rest of your life.  Sometimes you can feel a little bump where a know is from these sutures but usually you can't.

The other set of sutures is in the skin.  These hold the skin together until it is healed and then they are removed.  I use disolvable sutures which often times don't need to be removed because they simply fall out after a week or two.  If your surgeon used non-dissolving sutures then they need to be removed.  Usually they would be removed about a week after surgery.  If they are left for a long time, they can leave marks in the skin.  Of course, in this situation the marks would be in the crease behind your ear where no one could see them.  Removing these stitches might hurt a little, but not much.  The fact that it is 3 weeks after surgery isn't likely to make it hurt any different than if it were one week.

Louis W. Apostolakis, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Sutures & Otoplasty

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Permanent non absorbable skin sutures are typically removed in 7 to 10 days following otoplasty.  When sutures are left in place for longer periods, several potential problems can occur.  Although increased pain may occur with late suture removal, this is rarely a problem.  In the vast majority of patients, the most significant consequence of delayed suture removal is increased scarring.

It’s important to realize that no two patients are the same and that in some cases it may be appropriate to leave sutures in place for longer periods of time.  If you have questions about this topic, it’s important to discuss them with your surgeon.

Otoplasty Sutures...

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There are many different options for suturing an otoplasty incision.  I use dissolvable sutures so no removal is needed.  If we were to use sutures that don't dissolve, I would typically take them out in 7-10 days.  After 21 days they may a little more sensitive, but it shouldn't be too bad.  The most important thing is having a nice long lasting result from your otoplasty

Andrew Miller, MD
Edison Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 222 reviews

Otoplasty ear plastic surgery sutures are usually removed 6 days after the procedure

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Otoplasty ear plastic surgery sutures are usually removed 6 days after the procedure. Many times the sutures that are put are absorbable and will dissolve on its own. If they were left in longer than that, the absorbable sutures are not likely going to make a huge difference in terms of your end result. But if they are the permanent kind, you could get what you call train track markings. Essentially the pressure from the sutures when they are left in too long will cause marks to form that resembe train tracks.  This is the reason that surgeons don't tie the sutures too tight nor leave them in too long.

Thanks for reading, Dr Young

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Stitches in Otoplasty

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Otoplasty requires placing a new fold in the ears that is present in most of the population, but is lacking in individuals with prominent ears. After the fold is created, sutures are placed to keep the ear from returning to the position it was in prior to the surgery. For most surgeons, these sutures are not removed and generally the ear cartilage accepts them without reaction. There are a second set of sutures that are placed on the skin. These sutures are removed in about one week after surgery in my practice. The skin sutures are placed because a skin incision is required to gain access to the cartilage in the back of the ear. If the sutures are in the skin too long, scarring of the skin can occur, like those in scars that look like "railroad tracks". If you have questions about how long your sutures should be left in place, the best bet is to contact your surgeon and clarify these concerns.

Temp Patterson, MD
Burley Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.