Whether you’re planning an outdoor stay in the wild, getting ready to go on a high-risk adventure, or you just want to be extra prepared in case you or someone else ever accidentally gets injured...learning how to stitch a wound can be extremely useful.
Sure, you won’t use it on a daily basis (unless you’re a doctor), but if the time comes that you do need to stitch up a wound, it can save yours or someone else’s life!
So if you want to learn how to stitch up a wound, or to say it in a more fancy way, how to suture a wound, stick around for the rest!
What is stitching up a wound?
Stitching up a wound is also often referred to as suturing, which is just a fancier way of saying you’re stitching someone up. But what does stitching up a wound entail?
It essentially consists of using a sterilized needle and thread, in order to sew together a serious wound. Sewing the injury closed can help it to start healing properly and faster, as well as avoiding any chances of infection.
Suturing is used with wounds that are very deep and gaping, like with wounds that are deep enough that you can see the fat inside. These wounds are too deep and too large to easily heal by themselves without complication, so it’s best to stitch them tightly shut, allowing for the tissue to reform and join together once more.
Stitching up the wound really is the best way to deal with a deep wound, as any other method will not be as effective. And using a bandage, for example, will not fully close the wound, so it will instead become a breeding ground for infection, which can lead to some serious issues.
Usually, unless you work in the medical field, you will not be faced with having to stitch up a wound. And if you or someone else opens up a wound that needs stitching, the first call of action should be to find the necessary professional medical attention.
However, if you’re too far from a hospital, and time is of the essence, then it’ll be valuable to know exactly what to do and how to do it.
How to stitch a wound: a step by step guide!
Okay, so let’s say you’re faced with an emergency, and you have to stitch up a wound. Let’s start by looking at what you will need.
Ideally, you will have a suturing kit on hand, that will contain all the necessary supplies, as well as something with which to sterilize everything for safety.
But if you need to get the items separately, this is what you need:
- A sterilized needle and thread:
You cannot stitch up a wound without a needle and thread, as they are the main tools you will be using. Ideally, you should have a special sterilized needle and thread, that are designed for suturing, and that can be found in all first aid and survival stores and supplies.
The suturing needle is usually slightly curved, which makes sewing up the wound a lot better. And both the needle and the thread have to be completely sterilized, as they are going to come in deep contact with the skin tissues and the wound, and you want to avoid any possible infection.
- Needle driver:
This is an item that helps hold the needle when you’re putting it through the tissue.
Scissors are needed to cut away the excess thread once you’ve finished suturing the wound. Any scissors will do in this case.
- Tissue forceps:
These are used to manipulate the tissue around the wound while you’re going about the stitches so that you aren’t directly touching it with your hands.
Once you have all the necessary items, and everything is appropriately sterilized, you’re ready to start stitching up the wound. You should know that there are different methods and techniques of suturing a wound, with varying levels of difficulty.
For this article, we’re going to give you the guide to the most basic and straightforward form of suturing, which is the interrupted sutures technique.
This technique is the easiest, as each stitch is done individually, so that the process is more secure, and you are more able to adjust or make changes along the way.
Here is a step by step guide:
- Before you begin, it is vital that you thoroughly wash your hands and put on gloves. The area where you’re performing the suture should be as clean as possible, and you need to prepare the wound by cleaning out any debris and blood with water.
- Grab the needle by using the needle driver, making sure you have it secure for the best maneuverability possible and take out the sterilized thread.
- With the tissue forceps, expose the side of the wound where you’re going to begin stitching. Make sure you are aware of how deep the wound goes and where you need to stitch. You should also line up the edges of the wound as much as you can, for the best closing of the wound possible.
- Time to start the first stitch! Push the needle through the skin, at a 90-degree angle, all the way to just above the fat of the wound. You should be inserting the needle around 1cm away from the edge of the wound.
- When you’re at the right depth, twist your hand clockwise until the needle comes out on the other side of the wound, straight across from the first needle hole.
- When the tip of the needle is out, unlock the needle driver and use it to grab hold of the tip of the needle so that you can gently pull it out completely. When you have around 2 inches of thread on the right side of the wound, release the needle.
- Now you need to tie the thread to finish the stitch. To do this, hold the thread on the left side of the needle and wrap it around the needle driver twice.
- Open the needle driver, slightly, and grab the 3 inches of thread from the right side.
- Pull the long part of the thread until the thread wrapped around the needle driver slides off. This will result in a simple overhand knot with two loops, known as the ‘first throw’.
- Tighten the stitch so that the wound is fully closed, and ensure the knot is lying flat against the skin.
- Next, you need a second throw, but this time you only need to wrap the thread around the needle driver once.
- To finish off, perform the third throw, but wrap the thread around the needle driver in a counter-clockwise manner, instead of clockwise. This will stop the knot from slipping and coming loose.
- Cut the excess thread with the scissors.
- Move down the wound, and begin your second stitch! As you go along, make sure all the knots of the stitching are lined up on the same side.
- Once you’re finished with the suturing, wrap the wound in a sterilized bandage, and seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.
If you want to be properly prepared for a possible suturing procedure, make sure you practice beforehand (but not on humans). You can practice on a banana, on a pig belly, or on a special suture pad.