Is it normal to be able to feel sutures with your hands under the skin after face/neck lift? I am 7 months post-op.

I have nerve pain in both of my ears that has not been successfully treated with cortisone and nerve-blocker injections or lasers. He thinks it is a result of compression of the Greater Auricular nerve from the sutures (this is the area I can feel the stitches). I know nerve pain should resolve on its own by 1 year and not to have the surgeon go back in to remove the sutures until then. And do you agree that this may be what is causing the nerve pain, and could removing them fix the problem?

Doctor Answers 2

When sutures are palpable

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you need to find out from your surgeon if they will dissolve or not... as most sutures will dissolve by 6-8 months.  if your pains were present from day one, entrapment is certainly a possibility and with dissolution of the sutures, may resolve on their own.  If the pains are an annoyance, nothing would be recommended.  If crippling and in the distribution of the nerve, consideration would be given towards exploration and release of the nerve from any surrounding tissues, including scar tissue.  If your surgeon used permanent sutures, consideration would have to be given towards an exploration and removal of the sutures.  Most surgeons use dissolving sutures with facelifts.

Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

It is unlikely the sutures are the cause of pain.

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Sutures can become palpable long after a facelift and they should be removed before they spit ( a natural process the body used to eject superficial permenant sutures).  However, these are unlikely to be related to your pain.  Sensory nerves can be traumatized after the face lift and the greater auricular nerve is a risk for this.  Typically the trauma causes numbness.  I do not think that having the neck explored surgically is likely to resolve the symptoms but some do advocate this approach.  My personal opinion is that symptoms that do not resolve by 6 months are unlikely to resolve on their own.  A consultation with a neurologist is helpful because they are often called upon to treat neuropathies with medications which can be helpful.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

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