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What is a Prolene Suture?

By Misty Wiser
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A prolene suture is a non-absorbable sterile suture used in cardiovascular, ophthalmic, and orthopedic surgeries. This synthetic suture is also used in dental procedures, microsurgeries, plastic surgery, and neurological surgeries. It is a monofilament fiber, which helps avoid infection in post-operative wounds. The suture expands up to 30% after placement, encouraging tissue healing without the additional stress of suture shrinkage.

This suture is made of an isotactic crystalline stereoisomer of polypropylene. This long-lasting suture is extremely flexible and has a very high tensile strength that lasts for at least two years. The smooth texture of the synthetic fiber results in less trauma to the tissue when inserted.

Surgical sutures made from prolene are biologically inert. They cause less inflammatory response in the tissue sutured than natural fibers, and do not degrade from the enzymes present in the body. The suture is eventually encapsulated by the healing tissue, and does not require removal by a physician.

Rarely, an injury to the area of the suture placement can cause the formation of a granuloma around the suture. The granuloma is a fluid filled area that may have fibrin and other cells within it. Tissue areas with granuloma are slow to heal, and may cause pain around the sutures. The presence of a granuloma may indicate a need to have the suture removed and the wound cleaned.

The non-absorbable prolene sutures are preferable for patients that have a fever, infection, or a protein deficiency. These factors can cause other sutures to lose their tensile strength early. The tissue ligation is guaranteed to remain in place without further surgeries because the suture cannot decompose in the body. A prolene suture is ideal for placement within infected areas because the monofilament nature of the suture makes it difficult for microorganisms to hide within the suture. Multifilament sutures increase the risk of infections, because the braided structure provides a place for the infectious organisms to grow.

Prolene sutures come in pre-cut sizes or loops and may be needled or blunt when ordered. They are dyed blue or black for easier visibility in the body. The color of the suture differs with the size of the suture used. The sutures must be stored away from sunlight, as exposure to ultra-violet (UV) rays can prompt the formation of cracks in the suture. Extreme heat can cause the prolene suture to degrade, so it must be stored in a temperature controlled environment.

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Discussion Comments

By anon346333 — On Aug 27, 2013

The suture expands lengthwise thus reducing tension as the wound heals. Suture shrinkage tends to cut through the healing edge of the wound.

By amypollick — On Nov 10, 2012

@aussieGirl: If you still have that blue material you pulled out of your scar, keep it and take it with you to your next doctor's appointment and ask your doctor about it. If you don't have it, at your next appointment, tell your doc what happened, and ask him or her what that was.

It's been seven months, so I'd think everything has healed up from your surgery, and it was OK to pull that thing out. I'd still take it to my doctor, though.

By aussieGirl — On Nov 09, 2012

I had a c-section seven months ago and just assumed they used dissolvable stitches, but I now believe they used prolene sutures. I was never instructed by the hospital to come back and get this removed, but after reading through some forums I believe I should have. Is this right?

I have been getting really bad ingrown hairs that come up as pimples along my scar and manage to get the hairs out eventually, but the pimples still kept coming up as hard lumps. I noticed one of the pimples had something dark in it, so I got it out, believing it was an ingrown hair. It ended up being a long, hard, blue wire like material (that I now believe is prolene) that was the length of my scar -- about 15cm.

It was quite freaky pulling it out, but ever since I did, the pimples have gone down and healed. This suture was obviously not agreeing with me and I'm glad it is now out.

I have been searching the net for more information on whether this should have been taken out but have come across mixed answers. Could someone please explain if I've done the wrong thing, or whether they should have been removed earlier?

By anon257149 — On Mar 25, 2012

I recently found out that the use of prolene in intestinal sutures, could be related to increased incidence of suture dehiscence. Could someone explain to me why this might be?

By mwiser — On Jul 12, 2011

The suture shrinkage could pull at the edges of the tissue causing more damage and increasing the healing time. The suture expanding allows for more blood flow through the tissue which can speed the rate of healing.

And, it is entirely possible the suture used with the liquid stitches was a prolene suture since it is commonly used to repair those types of injuries. Thanks for your questions.

By zeak4hands — On Jul 09, 2011

I have to say, I'm a little confused. Why would the suture expanding help with healing? Wouldn't that just make a bigger hole that would have to heal later? I'm not an expert on this by any means, so if anybody could clear that up for me, or even just explain why "suture shrinkage" is a bad thing, I'd appreciate it.

By MedicineBall — On Jul 08, 2011

Hey, I had these! I had to have stitches on my knee, and after reading this, I really think that they used prolene sutures. The only thing is, they mixed the type of suture I had with "liquid stitches" – basically, medical super glue.

The medical glue helped keep the wound closed, which was important for me since I had to bend my legs a lot while it was healing -- kind of hard not to when you work a desk job. The glue made a film over my skin like the liquid band-aid spray -- staying nice and flexible. I could prop my leg up comfortably without worrying about the stitches popping open.

Do you think this is the same kind of suture?

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