Stitches (Sutures, Wound Closures)

1 What are Stitches (Sutures, Wound Closures)?

Read on to learn more about stitches (sutures, wound closures).

The skin has many layers of the epidermis on the outside to the subcutaneous tissue and the dermis in between and each of the layers has other sub-layers that help the skin to provide a barrier to the outside world and the dangers of infection, environmental hazards, and chemicals and temperature.

Lacerated skin can be repaired with few different options but two important steps that need to occur before the skin is closed are:

  • Exploration – Wound must be examined because dirt and debris can enter. Also, the anatomic structures must be examined for possible injuries.
  • Cleaning – Wound must be washed out or irrigated thoroughly before closing to prevent the occurrence of an infection and sometimes a small amount of dirty tissue needs to be cut out (debridement).

At home, a person can provide first aid by washing the laceration with plain soap and water and then lightly bandaged. A wound on the face, scalp, and hand can bleed profusely while one on the shin or back may not, so the bleeding can be stopped with direct pressure at the bleeding site and elevation of the injured part of the body.

Before taking care of a wound, the physician will ask a person few questions like where and when did the accident occur, were there any unusual circumstances like an animal bite because of possible infection and was the wound cleaned or treated with something.

Then, a physician will examine the wound and a local anesthetic can be administered to allow full exploration of the wound. After, the wound will be cleaned and sometimes go under X-ray to look for foreign material that can be embedded in the laceration of for a possible fraction of the bone.

The physician can repair the wound with sutures, staples, glue, Steri-Strips,or Band-Aids and it depends on how many layers of the skin need to be sutured and on the sutures position on the body because if the laceration is not under stress or stretch Steri-Strips and Band-Aids can be considered.

The removing of a suture depends on the location of the laceration and on how much stress is placed on the laceration. The body forms a scar around the suture itself usually within 7 to 8 days and the suture are usually removed in 7 to 10 days, but the sutures on the face can be removed within 5 days because there is such good blood supply in this region and healing occurs more quickly.

The first three months after sutures are removed, there will be a raised, red healing ridge at the laceration site and in next two to three months, the ridge will flatten and then will start to weather and lighten. After six to eight months or longer the final result of the laceration repair can be appreciated.

People with diabetes and those with peripheral vascular disease may have delayed healing and increased risk of infection.