How to suture a wound | DIY & what materials you need
Sutures are used by your doctor to close wounds to your skin or other tissues. When your doctor sutures a wound, they’ll use a needle attached to a length of “thread” to stitch the wound shut.
There are a variety of available materials that can be used for suturing. Your doctor will choose a material that’s appropriate for the wound or procedure.
Sutures are used when a wound is deep and gaping. For example, if you can see fat in your wound, you should get stitches. If you just tried to close the wound with a bandage, it would only bring the top part of the tissue together, leaving the tissue beneath still separated. That little gap can become a breeding ground for infection. Suturing ensures that you bring all the layers of tissue together so the damaged wound can start healing.
Suture supplies that you will need
In an extreme pinch, you could probably use a regular old needle and thread (ideally sterilized with boiling water or otherwise) to suture a wound. But that would 1) be hard and 2) increase the chance of infection.
To properly and effectively suture a wound, you’ll want to get a hold of a suturing kit. Here are the supplies you will need:
- Needle driver. This is what you’ll use to hold the needle when you’re putting it through the tissue.
- Tissue forceps. You’ll use these to manipulate the tissue around the wound while you apply the suture.
- Scissors. To cut the excess thread.
- Sterilized needle and thread. When you apply sutures to someone, you’re putting in and leaving foreign objects in their body. You want to make sure they’re sterilized. You can purchase sterilized suture threads at most online first aid and survival stores. The needle on a medical suture is typically curved to make sewing a bit easier.
Be sure everything is sterilized before used on human flesh. Kits usually come with sterilizing alcohol wipes.
How to suture a wound
There are numerous suturing techniques. To decrease scarring, more intricate suture methods are used.
For this article, we will illustrate how the most basic suturing technique can be performed: interrupted (or intermittent) sutures.
This is called an interrupted suture since each stitch is not related. You make one, tie it off, and then you make a different one.
Here’s how to do interrupted sutures:
- Wash hands and prepare the wound. Wash your grubby hands like a doctor to reduce the chances of infecting the wound. Prepare the wound for suturing by cleaning out any debris with water. Clean out as much blood as possible. Put on latex gloves.
- Use your needle driver to grab the needle. Make sure the needle clamp locks in place. Pull all the threads out of the suture kit.
- Use the tissue forceps to expose the side of the wound you’ll begin the suture on. This lets you see what you’re working with and how deep the wound goes. Line up the edges of the wound as much as you can.
- Push the needle through the skin at a 90-degree angle about a centimeter to the right of the wound. Don’t go below the fat. Just right above it.
- When you’ve gone deep enough, twist your hand clockwise so that the needle starts coming up on the other side of the wound. You want the needle to come out straight across from the first needle hole.
- When the needle has come out on the other side of the wound, unlock the needle driver, reattach it near the tip of the needle (you don’t need to lock it), and pull until you have about 1-2 inches of thread left on the right side of the wound. Release the needle.
- Using your left hand, hold the thread on the left side of the needle and wrap twice around the tip of the needle holder.
- Slightly open the needle holder and grab that 1-2″ of thread on the right side of the wound.
- Using your left hand, pull the long part of the thread. The part of the thread wrapped around the needle holder will slide off. You’ll have created a simple overhand knot with two loops. This is called the “first throw.”
- Tighten things so that the tissue is just touching and make sure the knot is lying flat.
- Time for the “second throw.” Using your left hand, hold the long end of the thread and wrap it once around the needle driver clockwise. Slightly open the needle driver and grab the short end of the thread. Using your left hand, pull the long part of the thread. You’ll finish off your surgeon’s knot with another overhand knot.
- Repeat step 11 one more time for a “third throw” to really create a secure knot. Instead of wrapping the thread clockwise around the needle driver, wrap it counter-clockwise. This will prevent the knot from slipping.
- Cut the excess thread.
- Move a quarter-inch down the wound and repeat the process.
- Make sure all the knots are lined up on the same side. Mine is on the left side of the wound.
- Wrap your sutured wound with a sterilized bandage. Get professional medical attention as soon as possible.