Recently a man came into our clinic and had a bloody t shirt wrapped around his thigh. He said, “I cut my leg pretty bad this morning when I was using my hand saw, do you think I need stitches?
Within that question are several other questions and I think I have the answers for all of them:
The answer for him was “yes, you will benefit from stitches”, once I saw the wound. Stitches are recommended for many reasons which include: to stop minor bleeding, to close the wound after a thorough cleaning of it, to prevent an unsightly scar, to encourage faster healing and help prevent infection. But does everybody need stitches? Not at all:
Just about any wound will heal under normal circumstances (no infection, good blood supply, adequate nutrition) but it takes much longer and requires constant care. There are times when we don’t recommend sewing up a cut especially if the wound is uncommonly dirty and/or already infected. In that case, sewing up the cut just traps the already present bacteria in the wound and in a matter of 2-3 the patient would be back and the sutures would have to be removed so the infection can drain.
If the wound also has an underlying nerve injury, bone fracture or tendon/ligament injury too, then QuikSurg might sew up the wound to be able to get you to a surgical specialist (Orthopod, Hand Surgeon) for a definitive repair.
So, in the case of our patient with the leg laceration from the saw, we were able to stop the bleeding with pressure, use lidocaine as the local anesthesia, clean and scrub the wound to our satisfaction and sew it up. He received a tetanus immunization and we watched him closely (saw him back in the clinic in a couple of days) and then took the stitches out in 10 days. Steri-strips were placed and he was pleased with the results.
A word about absorbable stitches and glue:
There is sometimes a time and a wound appropriate for these things. Some areas of the body just need stitches for maximum holding power… the knee or any place that bends/moves constantly, for example. The glue we use is “medically approved” and we never recommend the use of “super glue” or duct tape for cuts!