Stitch Up – What can you do to help?
Unlike a surgical incision with smooth edges, a laceration is often jagged and irregular and as a result, there can be variable degrees of damage to the underlying tissue and structures depending on the depth and force of the trauma that caused the laceration.
Surgery is needed to get the best and quickest recovery. Any foreign material (grass/dirt) must be removed from the wound before closure, so as soon as you notice a wound it is important you keep it as clean as possible until you can get into the clinic. For areas with severe bleeding, apply pressure to the wound until you get to the clinic, but make sure circulation is not compromised.
During surgery, drains may also be placed to help drain fluid from under the skin. Accumulated fluid delays healing and may lead to abscesses forming.
The major risks associated with lacerations with significant trauma are postoperative infection and wound breakdown over the incision. Overall complication rate is low, however serious complications may require additional surgery. Certain areas are worse for this, like in the flank or on the shoulder/elbow area, so ensuring complete rest is important, especially no jumping. Some wounds need to be left open to heal, as there isn’t enough viable healthy skin to close the wound. In these cases, recovery does take longer, and can become very expensive when repeat bandage changes are required.