Why Suture Granulomas Develop & How to Treat Them

Abnormal lumps and bumps can be concerning, especially when they develop on the incision line after skin cancer surgery. While it’s important to visit a dermatologist about any unexplained growths that have suddenly appeared, it can be helpful to know that not all bumps indicate a serious problem. Suture granulomas, for instance, can appear on or near the area where stitches were placed during a past surgery. This skin condition is simply a grouping of immune cells, most often caused by the sutures becoming embedded in the skin, or some of the material being left under the skin when the suture was removed. Granulomas can also form around a permanently placed medical device.

Suture granulomas develop from your immune system trying to create a barrier between the foreign material and your natural body tissues. Your cells begin to cluster as they completely surround the material or the general area of where it was removed. These granulomas tend to look red and swollen, and in some cases, the body tries to remove the material through the skin’s surface, creating what looks like a boil or pimple. Suture granulomas can occur right after surgery or, in the case of permanent devices, later on when the immune system delays its defense against the foreign object.

As with any unidentified skin growth, you should be evaluated by your dermatologist for a diagnosis. If it is determined you have a suture granuloma, there are a number of treatment options available. “Suture granulomas can resolve on their own, and simply monitoring it or using an anti-inflammatory agent may be all that’s needed,” says Dr. Mamelak, our dual board-certified dermatologist. In other cases, where the growth continues to get worse or becomes painful, the suture and granuloma can both be removed.

Keep in mind that if you have had a suture granuloma in the past, it is possible the growth can come back. As a result, you should consult with your physician before any future medical procedures.