Many of us have been there. A quick slip of the knife when you’re chopping veggies, retrieving broken glass from the sink, or an unexpected fall from a bike can all lead to wounds. But how do you know whether your injury requires basic home first-aid or a trip to urgent care for stitches?
At Prime Choice Family Clinic & Urgent Care in Frisco, TX, we’re experts in treating wounds. Here they explain why and when yours may require stitches.
Why and when you need stitches
Your skin is a protective barrier that, among other things, helps prevent bacteria and other dangerous elements from entering your bloodstream. Even a tiny cut alerts your body’s natural healing processes to close the wound as quickly as possible.
It takes time, however, for your body to repair and rebuild damaged tissue. Stitches support your body’s tissue reconstruction system by bringing the wound edges together, which helps them fuse together and heal more quickly.
Skin wounds that probably require stitches include:
- deep, jagged, or gaping cuts
- wounds that continue to bleed significantly even after 20 minutes of direct pressure
- even seemingly minor cuts that cause loss of function in your hands, feet, or other limbs
- lacerations to the face or another area where scarring may be especially troublesome
- loss of sensation in the area surrounding the wound, which may indicate nerve damage
Don't hesitate to come in if you’re uncertain whether you need stitches. We’ll cleanse the wound thoroughly and determine whether stitches are necessary. Wounds should be sutured within six to eight hours of the injury for the best results.
What to expect when getting stitches
The process starts with the application of a numbing gel to reduce pain. Next, the cut is cleaned thoroughly with a medical formula of sterile water (saline). Then, it is inspected closely to determine the depth and other factors. In some cases, we take X-rays to ensure all foreign material, such as glass shards or metal fragments, has been removed.
If sutures are necessary, we apply additional numbing agent. Often, lidocaine is injected into the area.
Once the site is numb, we remove any dead tissue from the area and then stitch the wound closed manually using a needle and specialized surgical thread. It goes quickly. The suturing itself is often the quickest portion of the entire process.
Some patients report a mild tugging sensation as the sutures are placed but no discomfort otherwise. We then bandage the wound, and you’re almost done.
Caring for your stitches
We provide detailed care instructions before you leave, which include keeping the site clean and monitoring it for signs of infection that require further medical attention.
Your stitches may itch during the healing phase, but it’s important that you not scratch or otherwise irritate the wound site.
Depending on the nature of the laceration, we typically remove sutures after 7-10 days. This process is painless. Your provider simply snips the knots and pulls the suture material out. You may feel that slight tugging sensation again, but it’s generally much less painful than pulling a hair out by its roots.
We’ll give you instructions regarding care of the site, which may be more sensitive to sun and other elements for a time.
If you’ve sustained a wound that looks like it may need more than a bandaid and TLC, call us at 214-550-0911 to schedule an immediate appointment or use our online booking tool.