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Aidan Macdonald 06-13-2011 08:36 PM

The Stitches Window
What is with the window to get stitches? I cut myself yesterday, tried taping and glue but it failed, went to get a stitch (small cut), and they told me I waited to long and taped it up AGAIN.

I know, I am fairly dumb. But I don't understand the window deal. You REALLY can't get stitches after 8 hours. What about soldiers, adventerous people, and people without quick access to medical care. It sounds like a legal issue.

And looking back, I know I have gotten stitches well past the window. I had a cut, got it stitched, waited 2 weeks, got them removed, the cut opened again, and I got restitched. So what's up

Katherine Derbyshire 06-13-2011 08:57 PM

Re: The Stitches Window
People without quick access to medical care will either bleed to death or quit bleeding on their own.

I think the reason for the window is the risk of infection and other badness if you seal the wound up after the body's natural healing has kicked in.


Jason Peacock 06-14-2011 01:05 PM

Re: The Stitches Window
That's my understanding - within a certain timeframe (hours) you can basically press the skin/wound back together and everything just rejoins itself.

But if the body's already started the healing/wound protection process, then sticking things together won't help them rejoin - you're stuck with conventional healing, which generally happens bottom-up and so stitching the top together while bottom (inside) is still healing just causes problems (drainage?). So instead it's just tape & cover & changing the dressing.

In the field, depending on the level of training, you can cleanse the wound and then use butterfly bandages that are basically modern stitches. Also, many wilderness first responders carry skin staples, which are a great backcountry hack. Very useful for scalp wounds which are difficult to bandage and bleed everywhere.

Mike Hopper 06-14-2011 08:25 PM

Re: The Stitches Window
I carry butterfly bandages and steri-strips in my kit as an athletic trainer. I'm able to put a wound back together, cover it, and let an athlete normally finish a game before going to get stitches. But again, 3-4 hour window needs to be met..

Megan Zetter 06-14-2011 09:40 PM

Re: The Stitches Window
Typically after 6 hours it's best to not stitch. Wounds on the hand and the face can go longer without stitches due to good blood supply. Like Katherine said, the doctor is likely worried about closing an infection. Just keep in bandaged and protected and you should be fine.

Steve Bray 06-15-2011 08:17 PM

Re: The Stitches Window
it obviously wasnt bad enough to stitch up. i used to cut myself alot ( i worked with knives) and in my old job people only got stitches if you cut a tendon....ive had a few cuts where i think back i shouldve got it stitched up but they healed by themselves rather well.

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