What Dissolvable Stitches Look Like When They Fall Out

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

When dissolvable stitches begin to fall out, they take on a different appearance than when they were first put in. The absorbable sutures can look looser, shorter, or even like they’re hanging when they’re ready to come out.

Those are all signs of them about to fall out. Another interesting sign is when you notice them start to change colors.

hanging dissolvable stitch
hanging dissolvable stitch

Those appearances are very different from a freshly tied surgical knot that is secure.

We’ll show you what it’s normally supposed to look like and also what they will look like when they’re falling out.

Secure suture knot

The day that dissolvable stitches are first put in would be when they are the most secure and stable. Your body hasn’t had a chance to start dissolving them yet so a freshly put in stitch will look its best on day one.

secure dissolvable stitch
secure dissolvable stitch

Signs of a secure suture knot:

  • Taut
  • Very little space underneath of the knot
  • Color looks vibrant

Freshly placed absorbable stitches are typically secured by the way that the knot is tied. Most clinicians will tie three knots in opposing directions in order to secure it.

Video demonstration of what we mean by placing three knots in opposite directions.

Loose dissolvable stitch

Tightly tied suture knots do not have any space underneath of them. If stitches in your mouth start coming loose with a lot of space underneath it, it could be a sign that they’re ready to come out.

Loose dissolvable stitch
Loose dissolvable stitch

Signs of it being loose:

  • Space underneath of the knot
  • Suture can move around

Shorter looking suture

Your doctor may have initially left the ends of the stitches relatively long. The extra length ensures knot security because if it loosens, it won’t unwind.

Shortened dissolvable stitch
Shortened dissolvable stitch

However, as your body starts to dissolve and absorb some of the stitches, you may notice the length of the ends shortening. That is a tell-tale sign that absorption is occurring.

Notable features:

Hanging dissolvable suture

When sutures are just about ready to fall off, they often look like they’re hanging. You may even describe them as “hanging by a thread” no pun intended.

Signs of a hanging absorbable stitch:

  • Knot looks undone or unwound.
  • Ends of the suture looks floppy or loose

If you see this, it’s a good thing because it means that you’re body is actually working to dissolve them. If you give them a couple more days or a week, it should completely fall off on their own.

Changing colors

If your absorbable sutures are colored, meaning that they were dyed, they can potentially change colors as they dissolve.

Their original color would be undyed, clear, or white but they were dyed to be a specific color. As your body dissolves them, the outer colored layer will disintegrate thus revealing the true color underneath.

Credit: dolphinsutures

The image above shows polyester sutures that come in a green and white color. The white colored is the undyed version of it.


There are multiple signs for when dissolvable sutures are ready to fall out. Most notably they can be looser, shorter, hanging, or even changing colors.

If you notice any of the above signs, it means that they’re in the process of falling out on their own. You may simply give them more time to come off or you can even see your dentist and have them removed.


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