How to Remove Surgical Staples

Nursing Knowledge

How to Remove Surgical Staples

Skin staples are a common method of wound closure after surgical procedures. They are quick and easy to apply, and can help reduce the risk of infection and promote faster healing. For nurses, it is important to understand how to properly remove skin staples postoperatively to ensure optimal healing for your clients and minimize infection risk. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions and tips!
Last updated: December 4, 2023

Table of contents

What are surgical staples? 

Surgical staples are specialized medical devices made of stainless steel or titanium, used to close wounds or incisions after surgery. They are often used in place of sutures for certain types of surgeries or wounds because they can be quicker to apply and may cause less tissue reaction.

Types of skin staples 

There are different types of surgical skin staples. Common ones include: 

  • Standard staples
  • Absorbable staples
  • Curved staples (for use on contour of rounded organs) 
  • Wide staples (for areas affected by more movement/stress)

How to remove staples from skin 

Supplies needed 

  • Sterile staple removal kit
  • Gauze
  • Normal saline
  • Adhesive strips

Pre-procedure steps before removing staples

Before you start the procedure, perform hand hygiene, provide privacy, and explain the procedure to your client. Assess client’s pain level, and raise the bed to an appropriate height, as well as assist the client into proper position. 

Before you start removing the staples from the skin, assess the incision site for signs of infection (warmth, redness, swelling, discharge, drainage). Also assess the wound for dehiscence. If signs of infection or dehiscence are present, stop and contact the provider before proceeding. 

How to remove surgical staples 

  1. Perform hand hygiene and put on gloves.
  2. Remove wound dressing if present.
  3. Assess the incision site.
  4. If wound dressing was soiled, discard gloves, perform hand hygiene and put on new gloves before proceeding.
  5. Open sterile staple removal kit.
  6. Cleanse the incision site using gauze and normal saline.
  7. Place the bottom of the staple remover under the center of the first staple.
  8. Keep staple remover stable against skin and compress the handle. The staple ends will pull up and out of the incision.
  9. Lift the staple out of the skin. Release pressure on handle to release staple into appropriate disposal unit.
  10. Repeat removal of staples, in order, until complete (or as directed).
  11. Apply adhesive strips if needed.
  12. Apply dressing if ordered.
  13. Dispose of supplies, remove gloves, and perform hand hygiene.
  14. Assess client’s comfort.
  15. Provide aftercare instructions.
  16. Document the procedure.

Tip: Don’t lift the staple remover while squeezing the handle. Wait until the ends of the staple has popped up and out of the skin.


How to Remove Surgical Staples

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Instructions for removing post-op staples and skin assessment

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