Suturing a scalp

Suturing is an important skill to have.  Knowing how to properly sew somebody shut isn’t something you need every day, but when you need it – you need it!  Sure, right now we can just run to the doctor, but what if you’re way in the outback or things have collapsed and good medical care isn’t easily available.  Suturing allows you to quickly close up a wound to help stop bleeding, help prevent infection and to lower the risk of damaging a wound while trying to get to better care – if needed.  There are plenty of ways and places to get training in suturing without going through medical school.  It’s easy to do once you learn, you just need to look around and find a class you can take.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t consider myself skilled enough to teach someone else how to do this.  This post is not intended to teach you how to suture or to make you think you learned here.  You need to get real training from a real doctor.  Once you’ve learned how to suture, this post takes you through the process, as I understand it, of suturing a scalp.

My brother recently had a piece of construction equipment fall on his head and asked my friend, Kelly, and I to sew it up for him.  Always anxious for something besides pig feet and chicken to practice on, we excitedly told him to get over to my house!  Here’s what he looked like when he showed up:


The first thing we needed to do was to get rid of all that hair.  So, I got a hair trimmer and shaved his head, being very careful to keep hair out of the wound, without any attachments on the trimmer.  Next, I took a razor and very carefully shaved every hair within about an inch of the wound site, again being very careful to not get any hair in the wound.

Once that was completed, I carefully but rigorously cleaned out the wound with alcohol using cotton swabs and gauze.  I also irrigated the wound to make sure nothing was hiding down inside it.

Once the wound was clean, it was time to numb it.  We shot him with several small injections of lidocaine to numb it, testing for numbness after a few minutes by gently poking inside the wound with the needle.

Once it was numb, we were ready to start stitching.  Using a needle puller, we sewed 3 stitches into his head.

We used a “simple surgeon’s knot” (that’s what I remember it being called) to tie each stitch off.

Once we were done, we trimmed the excess thread and cleaned up.  My brother later had a doctor friend look at it and he commented that he couldn’t/wouldn’t have done any better!  It has since healed up and the stitches have been removed.  The scarring is extremely minimal – especially compared to what it otherwise would have been.

For a simple procedure, to do it right (as Kelly and I have been taught) requires a fair amount of equipment and materials.  All this gear came straight out of my medical prep kits.

Are You Ready?

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