Childhood Cancer

Stitches are becoming less common for some injuries and surgeries as new options become available, including staples, butterfly bandages, and skin adhesive. You might consider whether to bring in a plastic surgeon if your child needs stitches on his face or if he could lose some function, such as from a hand injury. Unless the situation is life-threatening, there is usually time to discuss options.

Ten-year-old Sean fell and cut his forehead down to the bone. I took him to the emergency room and told them that he scars easily and we needed a plastic surgeon to do the repair. They resisted; I insisted. We ended up waiting four hours. The plastic surgeon sprayed on an anesthetic then waited a few minutes before giving the shots of anesthetic. Sean didn’t feel a thing, which was good because the wound required many internal and surface stitches. The scar is now so faint that you don’t notice it.

Ask the doctor or nurse to explain to your child how the wound will be closed. If shots of anesthetic will be used, the doctor or nurse should tell your child why and how many of the shots are needed. Time spent on preparation is well worth it.

As with any medical procedure, you should get written instructions for care of stitches. Instructions might include ways to keep the stitches dry and the wound from becoming infected.

Sean was worried about having his stitches removed. So I got some fabric and thread and put in some stitches. I showed him with scissors how the doctor could cut the stitch and not hurt the fabric. He felt fine about it after my demonstration.