What Activities Can I Do With Sutures And Stitches In The Skin

Stitches are one of the most common and secure ways to close a wound on the skin after Mohs surgery, excision, or other skin surgical procedure. An important thing to think about after you have received these stitches is when you can resume your normal routine.

Here are a few pointers when it comes to working out, stretching, and other strenuous activities.

General Recommendations

If your surgery is on the face or upper body, light activity like walking is not considered to be detrimental to the healing process. However, Dr. Mamelak advises that patients avoid vigorous activity and heavy lifting. Patient should not intentionally get their heart rate up for at least 1 week after surgery. If the surgery was performed on the lower extremity, it is recommended to keep the limb elevated as much as possible, using an ottoman or extra chair when sitting. “I often tell my patients to wrap the affected leg with an pressure dressing or ACE wrap. This keeps pressure over the wound and allows for optimal healing.”

Having said this, Dr. Mamelak tells his elderly patients not to be too sedentary after surgery. Regular walking or light biking is often acceptable.

Can I Work Out?

Athletic man working his chest“I hear this question a lot,” states Dr. Mamelak. “But in order to let the wound heal properly, it is best to avoid any extra pressure on the closure.” It would be unfortunate to be 10 minutes into your elliptical session and realize that you stitches are starting to separate. This can lead to improper healing and potential infection. Skin surgeries may seem small, but they are still surgery. Time after stitches should be a restful and relaxing one.

Light Stretching or Yoga?

As relaxing as yoga can be for the body and mind, stretching can pull the skin extremely taught and hence place unwelcome strain on stitches and surgical wounds. This is even more so when the skin is already being stretched to close and repair the skin. Even light stretching can place unwanted pressure on a surgical wound that can tug on stitches.

What About Swimming?

Although swimming can be considered a very beneficial activity to those who are looking for a workout with less pressure on joints, it can still cause a potential issue with your stitches. “The tension in the skin that takes places when swimming can also be harmful to the sutured area,” shares Dr. Mamelak. Hot tubs and whirlpool baths should be avoided for 1 week following surgery. Patients should not go in lakes, oceans, or  other natural bodies of water until their sutures have been removed.

How Long Until I Can Be Back In Action?

“This honestly depends on the area of the stitches and the healing process,” says Dr. Mamelak. “Patients no longer feel pain and want to get back to their routine.” In general, most patients can start to resume regular activities 2-3 weeks after surgery. However, it is important to speak to your surgeon directly about your activities and plans after surgery. Ideally, this should be done before your procedure to ensure the surgery does not interfere with any significant athletic events you have planned. Finally, follow your post op directions carefully.

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