If you get a cut or scrape, you can usually just clean it and put a Band-Aid on it. However, if you get a cut that's deep or won't stop bleeding, you might need stitches. If you have surgery, you also will get stitches.
What are stitches?
Stitches are loops of string used by a doctor to sew together the two sides of a cut. Doctors use different kinds of string called sutures, made of silk, nylon or vicryl. Silk and nylon stitches are taken out once the skin has healed enough to hold itself together. Vicryl stitches will dissolve in your skin after a few days and do not need to be removed by a doctor. Sometimes, instead of stitches, doctors can use a type of skin glue, which will keep the cut together until it heals.
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What happens when you get stitches?
- A doctor will clean the injury with clean water and an antibacterial wash.
- The doctor will numb the area, so it doesn't hurt and so you will not be able to feel the area where the stitches are being made.
- The doctor sews up the cut with a very small needle and string.
Taking the stitches out is easy. The doctor simply cuts the knot and pulls out the string. If the doctor has used skin glue or vicryl, it's even easier. In that case, you don't have to go back to the doctor because the binding dissolves on its own.
Even though stitches may sound scary, you will not be able to feel them being put in or removed and they will help your injury heal faster -- so things can get back to normal.
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Author: Julia Ransohoff, high school student writer
Reviewed by the Web Content Committee of PAMF
How stitches help kids heal, KidsHealth.org.