According to HowStuffWorks, dissolvable stitches sometimes do not dissolve when portions of the stitches are located outside of the body. In these cases, patients should see a doctor about possibly having the exposed stitches removed. This depends on how well the wound has healed. Jennifer Heisler for About.com warns patients not to bathe, swim or apply harsh cleansers, such as hydrogen peroxide, to dissolvable stitches until the wound heals.
Heisler explains that some patients may mistake scar tissue felt under the skin for remaining stitches. This is fairly common and should not alarm patients. HowStuffWorks notes that dissolvable stitches are designed to last long enough within the body to hold a wound together before the stitches begin to dissolve. They are composed of organic materials that the body is able to slowly break down with its own internal fluids.
Heisler states that dissolvable stitches can last anywhere from two weeks to six months. They are most often used to treat internal wounds that occur under the skin's surface and require suturing of fat, muscle and other tissues. Dissolvable stitches vary in thickness and elasticity depending on what type of wound they are used for and where the wound occurs on the body. For example, dissolvable stitches applied to movable joints must be more elastic to avoid breakage during movement.