Suture Materials

Author: Michelle Lin, MD
Updated: 1/7/2011

Suture Materials

Undesired tissue reactivity is greater with:

  • Multifilament (compared to monofilament)
  • Larger suture gauge
  • Natural material (compared to synthetic)

Absorbable Sutures

Type Effective Support Complete Absorption Comments
Surgical Gut 8-9 days 30 days Rarely used; high tissue reactivity
Chromic Gut 10-21 days > 90 days Gut treated with chromium to decrease tissue reactivity and slow absorption
Fast Absorbing Gut 5-7 days 14-28 days Gut treated with heat to speed absorption
Polyglac (Vicryl) 21 days 90 days Less reactive than gut; synthetic
Vicryl Rapide 10 days 42 days Gamma-irradiated to speed absorption

Non-Absorbable Sutures

Type Tensile Strength Tissue Reactivity Comments
Silk Low High Multifilament, pliable
Nylon (Ethilon) High Low Monofilament, stiff
Polypropylene (Prolene) Moderate Very low Monofilament, less knot security because slippery (may need extra throw in knot)

Suture Removal Timeframes

Body Part # of Days After Suturing
Face 3-5
Scalp 7
Chest, extremities 7-10
High tension areas, back 10-14


  • Taylor B et al. Basic plastic surgery techniques and principles: Choosing the right suture material. Student BMJ, 11: 2003. [Source]
  • Tajirian AL, Goldberg DJ.A review of sutures and other skin closure materials. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2010 Dec;12(6):296-302 [PubMed]