Go to the doctor or not? Stitches removal.
March 15, 2020 7:12 AM   Subscribe

We're in Minneapolis. My partner has an appointment on Thursday to get stitches removed following ankle surgery. We are otherwise entirely isolated at home. Should we go? We will need to take a cab.

The other options are leaving the stitches in until all this is over or waiting a week for safety and removing them ourselves. Frankly, I have not been overwhelmed by how seriously this clinic has been taking COVID-19 and am worried about exposure from other patients or the staff.

My partner is high-risk. There are probably forty official cases in Minnesota now, many in Minneapolis, and many more suspected ones. Things will be a lot worse on Thursday.
posted by Frowner to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If it were me, I’d remove them myself. I’ve had stitches removed In an office and they literally just cut each one with scissors and pull it out. Maybe your doctor would let you email them pictures of the wound to make sure everything looks good and confirm that the stitches are ok to remove?
posted by something something at 7:16 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


The main reasons for having a doctor remove stitches are: ensuring that the wound has in fact closed before attempting removal, ensuring antiseptic technique during removal, and assessing the wound for signs of infection or other complications that would need additional attention.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:22 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


ocherdraco gives you a good list of reasons to go to the doctor.

From a practical standpoint: I've removed my own stiches before. It was easy and straightforward. Manicure scissors to cut them, and tweezers to pull them out.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:33 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


If they stay in too long, the tissue will start to grow over the stitches, which would be a Bad Thing. Can you send the doctor a picture of the incision, and s/he can advise you from there?
posted by shiny blue object at 7:48 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


If you remove them yourself, please sterilize the surface string, skin, scissors and tweezers. Cut the string very close to the skin on one side and sterilize again. Pull on the long tail side of the string to remove it. Don't be like me and pull a length of germy string through the skin, resulting in infection and a trip to the clinic anyway for antibiotics.
posted by evilmomlady at 8:52 AM on March 15 [18 favorites]


Could you get them removed somewhere else that you trust more and/or that you wouldn’t have to take a cab to? Also I will note that even if your clinic seemed to be inadequately dealing with COVID-19 last time you dealt with them, things may have changed - I spent the last week in a hospital and the differences between what they were doing last Sunday and what they were doing yesterday were worlds apart.
posted by mskyle at 9:05 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


I don't live in Minnesota but I had an injury requiring stitches and had to go to the doctor last week to remove them, and have to go to physical therapy 2X a week at a major hospital literally right next door to the ER - and the outcome of going to the hospital was nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary. My area has cases and community spread, and there has been no change in plan from either my doctor or physical therapy communicated to me yet.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:14 AM on March 15


CVS MinuteClinic offers this service.
posted by smashface at 9:30 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Do you have a friend or neighbor who is a nurse or nursing student? Give them a little incentive to come to you, whether cash or baked goods. A Physician's Assistant would also be able to do this.

I'd stay out of the Minute Clinic or any healthcare facility if I had any other options right now.
posted by MissPitts at 9:53 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


If you do pull them out yourself, when i decided to remove my own years ago, it was recommended to me to pull at a shallow angle, rather than straight up, so if anything snags you don't risk the stitch tearing straight up through the skin.
posted by solotoro at 11:38 AM on March 15


I'd call the doctor and ask whether this is something that you can do at home and that you'd like to send photos before and after for evaluation. There's increasing evidence that asymptomatic people are spreading COVID19 and with an at-risk partner, I'd only want to leave the house if it's absolutely necessary. Removing stitches at home, especially if the incision looks good is something I'd feel comfortable doing.
posted by quince at 1:28 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Just take the stitches out yourself. I remove mine myself by preference. It isn't a big deal unless one is embedded but you can re-evaluate if that happens. I just dig.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:34 PM on March 15


PS: Do not wait an extra week, that just makes it harder to get them out. Do it the day before your appointment; if there's a problem, it's not going to be an emergency and your doc can sort it out at the appointment. If all goes well, cancel.

Do not ask before hand because no MD will say yes; their insurance would FLIP.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:36 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


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