Postpartum C-Section Staple Removal

After a c-section, your doctor must hold closed the layers of your body that have been opened. Internally, there are usually dissolvable sutures or stitches. This means that they will slowly reabsorb into your body and do not need any special care.


Staples for a C-Section

Nurse holding hands with pregnant woman in hospital
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The last layers that are held together are on the outside of your body. They can be closed by any of the following:

  • Stitches (sutures)
  • Surgical grade glue
  • Staples

When repairing the incision after you give birth, your doctor will decide what is the best type of material to use. The decision will be made taking into account their normal practices, your skin, your body type, and other factors in your medical history.

Some stitches will need to be removed; others dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed. Staples will always need to be removed. This usually happens before you leave the hospital after you've had your baby, but occasionally will not happen until after you've left the hospital. If this is the case, you may need to come in for an appointment with your practitioner, or it may be done by a home health professional.


Preparing to Remove the Staples

Your doctor will wash their hands in preparation for removing the staples. They will gather the supplies needed, usually just a special staple remover and a sterile cloth or paper drape. You will be asked to lay back on the exam table.

If you are anxious, you may want to ensure that you have someone else with you to hold your baby, if you brought them. It might also be great to have someone to hold your hand during this procedure. While it's not usually painful, it can still be nerve-wracking.

If you are still in the hospital, you may need to have a bandage removed first. Like many adhesives, it can hurt to have that pulled off of your skin. The nurse or doctor will do their best to brace your incision to make it less painful.


Beginning the Staple Removal

As your doctor or other practitioner begins to remove the staples from one end of your c-section incision, they will take the special tool and slip it just under the middle of the staple. Unlike office staple removers, this tool folds the staple down in the middle, bringing the edges of the staple up and out of your skin. This move will be repeated until all of the staples are removed.


Is It Painful to Have C-Section Staples Removed?

Having c-section staples removed is not usually painful. You may feel a pinch, particularly if the staple has embedded into your skin a bit. You will usually feel just a mild pinching feeling as each staple is removed.

If you have some crusted blood that has formed a scab around the staple, your doctor or their assistant may try to soften the scab with water or hydrogen peroxide. This will help prevent pain from the scab being disturbed.


After Staples Are Removed

Immediately following the c-section staple removal, your skin may be irritated from where the staples were. This is not how your c-section scar will look forever. You may see tiny holes where each end of the staple was in your skin. These usually fade. Sometimes you don't see them at all after a while or they fade to tiny dots lining your main c-section scar.

Your doctor will also give you instructions on how to care for your incision and discuss warning signs for your incision. Be sure to get these in writing so that you don't forget them. This can be easy to do when you've got a new baby and you are recovering from surgery. It's also handy to give them to those helping you care for you and the baby.

1 Source
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  1. Figueroa D, Jauk VC, Szychowski JM, et al. Surgical staples compared with subcuticular suture for skin closure after cesarean delivery: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(1):33-8. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e31827a072c

Additional Reading
  • Gabbe S, Niebyl J, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies, 5th ed. Churchill Livingstone.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.