Stitches, Staples, Glue: Which Do You Need?

01 Mar.,2024


If you or your child has a minor cut or scrape at home, you should clean the wound and stick a bandage over it.

But if you have a more severe gash, cut, or break in the skin, a doctor might use other options to close your wound. These might include stitches, staples, glue, or zippers. The type of material and technique your doctor uses will depend on many things, like what type of injury you have, your age and health, your doctor’s experience and preference, and what materials are available.

Doctors use sticky strips of tape (such as Steri-Strips) to pull together the edges of minor skin wounds. Skin tape costs less than other types of materials used to close wounds. But tape can lose its stickiness over time, especially if it gets wet. If it gets loose, the wound can break open.

Your doctor may use adhesive tape if you have a minor cut, laceration, or incision (low-tension wound). They might also use it during surgery if you have buried or absorbable skin sutures (stitches).

The strips usually fall off by themselves in about 10 days.

This is the most common technique for closing skin wounds. A doctor uses a piece of surgical thread called a suture to sew (or stitch) two ends of skin together. Surgeons once used animal tendons, horsehair, pieces of plants, or human hair to create sutures. Today, they’re made from natural or manmade materials like plastic, nylon, or silk.

Sutures may be permanent or absorbable (they dissolve in the body). Which type your doctor chooses depends on many things, including the type of incision and your risk of infection.

Your doctor may use permanent sutures for:

  • Wounds that might take a long time to heal
  • Closing surgical incisions, including those made for drainage tubes
  • Tying off blood vessels or parts of the bowel
  • Wounds involving connective tissue (fascia), muscles, or blood vessels

They might choose absorbable sutures for wounds that involve:

  • Lower layers of skin
  • Muscle and connective tissue
  • Lining inside the mouth
  • Areas with blood vessels close to the surface of the skin

Doctors sometimes use fast-absorbing sutures for skin grafts. That’s when your doctor covers lost or damaged skin with a patch of healthy skin.