How to Stop Vasovagal Response/Panic-Induced Brownout


Hi everyone!

I wasn't sure where this goes so admin please feel free to move it where appropriate.

I got a stitch out today from my foot for my bunionectomy, tailor's bunionectomy, and hammer toe. ONE stitch, not the running stitches or the other 3 nylon stitches that need to go.

I have a vasovagal response that makes it super easy to pass out, and I thought it was only with IUDs related to my trauma, but with this response to having a stitch pulled out my surgeon said it might be panic-induced brown out or the vasovagal response due to panic. I didn't entirely faint, but all the color rushed from my face, I felt weak and lightheaded.

We are trying again with a pre-popped Xanax next week for the rest of the stitches in addition to a wet cloth and icepack at ready and a numbing spray.

Mentally, however, If I have the same response I can't imagine getting 4 inches of thread and 3 other nylon knots out next week.

Does anyone have any advice?

I have a needle phobia, and I'm suspicious that what probably happened wasn't that pulling the stitch hurt, but the sensation of the thread coming out of my skin.

With needles, I have the same issue, I've tried both looking and not looking with distractions and I still pass out, so I'm at a loss.

I guess I'm just looking for support and maybe some coping methods to help in addition to the support.


I am sorry you are going through this. Surgery is hard.

I had this happen after my last round of cleft rhinoplasty. They left enormous rubber tubes in my nose during surgery that they yanked out two weeks later -- nothing for pain or anxiety. The worst part was knowing what the first one felt like and being expected to make it through the second with stitches all still inside my swollen nasal passages and everything. I flushed, got dizzy, nearly lost my lunch. It was ridiculously painful. I was sure I would pass out -- partly from pain but partly from WTF are you doing to my face???

I had my emergency clonazepam in my purse and took a double dose after the first tube came out and started breathing as slowly and deeply as I possibly could -- making every attempt to leave my body.

The second one came out a lot easier. But geez, how did they not warn me? I had expected local numbing for that.

Anyway, that's the best advice I have. Sedation or being knocked out is my friend when it comes to painful or bloody medical procedures -- the rest is breathe from the lowest part of the belly that I can and try to fly away.

I have a lot of surgeries behind me and I feel I should have better advice but surgery and after surgery is strange and hard.

Please go easy on yourself.
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Does anyone have any advice?
Do make sure you tell them all this, and request that you be laying down for the procedure. Don't be sitting upright, it makes everything so much more difficult.

Also - if the clinician who is doing the work can carry on a light and chatty conversation with you, where they talk about something kind of mundane but are really sharing it with you - this works for me because it relies on my built-in, deeply engrained inclination towards following social cues and not being a jerk. So - the nurse telling me about her adventure at the grocery store that morning? Where it will be socially necessary for me to make occasional "being interested" noises, so as to not offend her? That is the only distraction that works for me in most medical settings.

"Talk to me about your favorite vacation" is a prompt I've used, to help them get started. And if they are polite and try and engage me to talk about myself? I just say, "no, you keep talking". Because we are doing this on purpose as part of a management strategy, that's what makes it not rude.

Anyway - those are my best tips.


@joeylittle and @RussellSue , I did it!!

The stitches are ALL out. There were actually 6 nylon stitches in my pinky toe and 4" of running stitches on either side of my foot. I DID SO WELL. I am so proud of myself. It took him 45 minutes with all the breaks, but I am OK and didn't faint.

He was very understanding and I asked him to talk about what his kids were for Halloween and his pets for me so I could chime in and talk about my nephew and dog when I felt I needed to talk.

He also tipped the chair for me and told me he would stop every time I told him I needed a break.