Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a 2 year-old daughter that had a lip laceration repaired in the emergency room earlier this week. They put in 3 sutures and I was told to follow up with a plastic surgeon later in the week to make arrangements for the sutures to be removed in five to seven days. Can you take tell me when to bring my baby in to your office to have the sutures removed?
A: First of all, any doctor or physician’s assistant that would put sutures in the face of a 2 year-old that need to be taken out later is not very thoughtful of the patient or the parents. You always use resorbable sutures in the skin in any child under the age of 8 because it is going to require a general anesthetic to remove them. While they may have wrapped the baby in a papoose board in the ER to put them in, you can be certain that is not going to happen in a plastic surgeon’s office. Nor are most plastic surgeons going to try it with the baby screaming at the top of their lungs which is exactly what is going to happen.
My suggestion is to send me a picture of the lip so I can see what it looks like. And be aware of the very distinct possibility of having to sedate the baby to do it in an operating room setting.
I am well aware that you will likely be stunned to find out that an anesthetic will be needed to remove the sutures. But anyone in the ER can say anything when they don’t actually have to remove them later. Trying to get sutures out of the lip when the baby is thrashing around is not a good experience for all involved and will likely do damage to the lip repair that was just done.
Dr. Barry Eppley