Ouch! Accidents happen, and when we get a minor cut, we tend to just cover it with a bandage and forget about it. However, for more severe wounds that require a visit to the doctor, we may expect that stitches will be required. It can come as a surprise, then, when our doctor opts to use liquid stitches instead. So what exactly are liquid stitches, and are they better than traditional stitches?
Sutures (the term "stitches" actually refers to the process of closing a wound with sutures) have been around since the 16th century BCE. This has made them the default choice for surgeons who may not be as familiar with newer wound closure technology. There are two categories of sutures: absorbable and non-absorbable, and a variety of materials used within each category.
Absorbable sutures are used based on the position and severity of the wound or incision, the type of procedure, and the age of the patient. Because they’re more likely to leave a scar versus non-absorbable stitches, they are often used on the inside of the wound to close at the deepest levels, with non-absorbable sutures applied to the surface of the skin. To learn more about each type, healing times, and more, check out our story, How Long Does it Take for Sutures to Heal?
Liquid stitches, sometimes called liquid bandages, are clear gels that your doctor may use to hold the edges of small wounds together rather than using traditional sutures. The liquid is applied to your skin and as it dries, it creates a thin film that bonds the edges of the cut. Although you may feel a slight burning sensation during application and drying, there is usually a smaller chance of infection versus traditional stitches because the wound is sealed shut.
The seal lasts for 5-10 days and falls off naturally. If the seal falls off too soon because of a weak seal or because you’ve been picking or scratching at it, more liquid stitching can be applied (by your doctor or by purchasing it through a pharmacy). Anyone applying liquid stitches at home needs to be aware that the adhesive should only be applied to the surface of the skin, not inside the wound, by bringing the cut together with your fingers, spreading it on, and holding it closed for about a minute until it has had time to dry. It should never be used around the eyes, in the ear or nose, or internally in the mouth.
If you’re applying liquid stitches at home, you should never use a Super Glue to close wounds. These are cyanoacrylate adhesives and contain toxins that can be harmful to tissue. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has even documented a case where a 2-year-old boy sustained a full-thickness burn after an over-the-counter cyanoacrylate glue was applied to his skin; the burn was deep enough that the toddler even required a skin graft. So, it’s important to only use an FDA-approved 2-octyl cyanoacrylate such as Dermabond. Dermabond is a less toxic and more flexible formulation.
BandGrip: A New Alternative
Today, advancements in wound care have given us a better way to close wounds: BandGrip. BandGrip is a minimally invasive adhesive bandage that uses unique, curved micro-anchors to gently and securely grip the skin on either side of a wound to keep edges closed and allow for more natural healing. BandGrip can be used as a replacement for traditional sutures, liquid stitches, and even staples, as it can be tiled for use on large cuts and lacerations. Patients using BandGrip can shower just 24 hours of application, and the technology allows for better ambulation following surgery because it can be used on joint areas.
BandGrip can be applied quickly by physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals. However, it can also be used by anybody following an accident or injury—our vision is that in time, the product will be available to everyone.
If you’re going to be undergoing a surgical procedure, be sure to ask your physician about BandGrip to enjoy the benefits of safe healing with reduced scarring and increased mobility.