Man’s Leg Is Itchy In One Spot, Then He Discovers A 3-Year Old Stitch And Starts Pulling It

Man’s Leg Is Itchy In One Spot, Then He Discovers A 3-Year Old Stitch And Starts Pulling It

In 2016, a guy on YouTube went viral after uploading a video of himself pulling out a three-year-old stitch from his leg. [1] Smith from Memphis, Tennessee had been involved in a terrible accident in 2013 and had required about 100 stitches to close up the injuries on one leg. The doctors hadn’t used absorbable sutures so he was required to return after a few weeks to get them taken out.

According to Smith, the nurse who attended to him missed a few threads while removing his sutures and sent him home. A while later, the maddening itching began. A particular area on his leg would itch so much that Smith’s skin would tear up from intense scratching. 

For three years, Smith lived with several hidden threads embedded in his leg, occasionally flaring up and causing him to go crazy from the itching. In 2016, he happened to get a good look at one of the black spots poking below the outer layer of his skin and discovered that it wasn’t a scar or a blackhead. It looked like a sort of plastic material and it finally dawned on him what it actually was.  Using a pair of pointy pincers, Smith pulled out eight threads from his leg, although he only showed the process of removing a particularly stubborn one. 

Posted since 2016, the video has garnered over 14 million videos on YouTube, with some viewers saying they found the process satisfying to watch, like a zit being popped (if you’re into that kind of thing). In May 2020, four years after going viral with his first video, Smith uploaded another one where he removed the most recent stitch. It’s a wonder how many of those are still left inside his leg. 

Suturing is a delicate business

Stitches left behind may be classified as retained surgical/foreign bodies, which refers to any item inadvertently left inside a surgical patient after they are sealed up. Every year, thousands of patients reportedly sue hospitals for leaving items such as razors, towels, pincers, scalpels, and just like Smith, tiny threads inside their bodies. [2]

Leaving things inside human beings (although they are always mistakes) is simply irresponsible and negligent behavior by surgeons that could result in extreme pain, disability, internal scarring, mental torture, more painful surgeries, and increased medical expenses for unfortunate patients. The human body is extremely delicate and patients deserve to know they are in safe and conscious hands during surgeries. This is why it’s important for more than one person to perform a surgery, to reduce the risks of total forgetfulness of delicate steps and procedures.

Why do hospitals still use non-absorbable sutures?

Stitches and staples are some of the most commonly used methods of sealing injuries. A nicely done stitch can go a long way to prevent further blood loss and infections. Modern medicine has advanced massively since the days of cauterizing wounds with unsterilized metals and sealing with herbs. Today, we have dissolvable stitches or absorbable sutures that decompose over time and do not need to be taken out. 

While many health care systems around the world have normalized the use of dissolvable stitches, some common uses of the age-long non-absorbable sutures include bowel repair, vessel repair/anastomosis, tendon repair, and delicate skin closure.

According to the Encyclopedia of Surgery [3]: “Non-absorbable stitches should be removed several days to weeks after their placement, depending on their location. For instance, sutures on the face should be removed in approximately 5 days; sutures on the legs and abdomen, in 7 to 10 days; and sutures on the back, in 10 to 14 days. Strips of adhesive tape may be placed over the wound to help support the tissue while it is healing”.


  1. Man Discovers Man discovers a 3-year-old stitch in his leg and starts to pull it (video).Amo Mama. Rebelander Basilan. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  2. Three years evaluation of retained foreign bodies after surgery in Iran.Ann Med Surg (Lond). Mohammad Zarenezhad, MD, PhD, Saeed Gholamzadeh, MD, Arya Hedjazi, MD, Kamran Soltani, MD, Jaber Gharehdaghi, MD, Masoud Ghadipasha, MD, Seyyed Mohammad Vahid Hosseini, MD, Pediatric Surgeon, and Ahmad Zare, Master in Law. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  3. Stitches and staples.” Encyclopedia of Surgery. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  4. Retained Surgical Foreign Bodies after Surgery.” NCBI. Zejnullahu et al. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
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