Laceration repair


Laceration repair includes all the steps required to treat a wound in order to promote healing and minimize the risks of infection, premature splitting of sutures (dehiscence), and poor cosmetic result.


A laceration is a wound caused by a sharp object producing edges that may be jagged, dirty, or bleeding. Lacerations most often affect the skin, but any tissue may be lacerated, including subcutaneous fat, tendon, muscle, or bone.

A laceration should be repaired if it:

Lacerations are less likely to become infected if they are repaired soon after they occur. Many physicians will not repair a laceration that is more than eight hours old because the risk of infection is too great.


Laceration repair mends a tear in the skin or other tissue. The four goals of laceration repair are to stop bleeding, prevent infection, preserve function, and restore appearance.

The laceration is cleaned by removing any foreign material or debris. Removing foreign objects from penetrating wounds can sometimes cause bleeding, so this type of wound must be cleaned very carefully. The wound is then irrigated with saline solution and a disinfectant. The disinfecting agent may be mild soap or a commercial preparation. An antibacterial agent may be applied.

Once the wound has been cleansed, the physician anesthetizes the area of the repair. Most lacerations are anesthetized by local injection of lidocaine, with or without epinephrine, into the wound edges. Lidocaine without epinephrine is used in areas with limited blood supply such as fingers, toes, ears, penis, and nose, because epinephrine could cause constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction) and interfere with the supply of blood to the laceration site. Alternatively, a topical anesthetic combination such as lidocaine, epinephrine, and tetracaine may also be used.

The physician may trim edges that are jagged or extremely uneven. Tissue that is too damaged to heal must be removed ( debridement ) to prevent infection. If the laceration is deep, several absorbable stitches (sutures) are placed in the tissue under the skin to help bring the tissue layers together. Suturing also helps eliminate any pockets where tissue fluid or blood can accumulate. The skin wound is closed with sutures. Suture material used on the surface of a wound is usually non-absorbable and will have to be removed later. A light dressing or an adhesive bandage is applied for 24–48 hours. In areas where a dressing is not feasible, an antibiotic ointment can be applied. If the laceration is the result of a human or animal bite, if it is very dirty, or if the patient has a medical condition that alters wound healing, a broad-spectrum antibiotic may be prescribed.


Preparation for laceration repair involves inspecting the wound and the underlying tendons or nerves to evaluate the risk of infection, the degree of tissue damage, the need for debridement, and its complexity. If hair is located in or around the wound, it is usually removed to minimize contamination and allow for good visibility of the wound. If nerves or tendons have been injured, a surgeon may be needed to complete the repair.


The laceration is kept clean and dry for at least 24 hours after the repair. Light bathing is generally permitted after 24 hours if the wound is not soaked. The physician will provide directions for any special wound care . Sutures are removed three to 14 days after the repair is completed. Timing of suture removal depends on the location of the laceration and physician preference.

The repair should be examined frequently for signs of infection, which include redness, swelling, tenderness, drainage from the wound, red streaks in the skin surrounding the repair, chills, or fever. If any of these occur, the physician should be contacted immediately.


The most serious risk associated with laceration repair is infection. Risk of infection depends on the nature of the wound and the type of injury sustained. Infection risks are increased in wounds that are contaminated with soil or fecal matter, are the result of bites, have been open longer than one hour, or are located on the extremities or on the region between the thighs, genitalia, or other areas where opposing skin surfaces touch and may rub.

Normal results

All lacerations will heal with a scar. Wounds that are repaired with sutures are less likely to develop scars that are unsightly, but it cannot be predicted how wounds will heal and who will develop unsightly scars. Plastic surgery can improve the appearance of many scars.


The only alternative to laceration repair is to leave the wound without medical treatment. This increases the risk of infection, poor healing, and an undesirable cosmetic result.

See also Debridement .



Snell, George. "Laceration Repair." In Procedures for Primary Care Physicians, edited by John L. Pfenninger and Grant C. Fowler. St. Louis: Mosby, 1994.


Beredjiklian, P. K. "Biologic Aspects of Flexor Tendon Laceration and Repair." The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 85-A (March 2003): 539–550.

Gordon, C. A. "Reducing Needle-stick Injuries with the Use of 2-octyl Cyanoacrylates for Laceration Repair." Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 13 (January 2001): 10–12.

Klein, E. J., D. S. Diekema, C. A. Paris, L. Quan, M. Cohen, and K. D. Seidel. "A Randomized, Clinical Trial of Oral Midazolam Plus Placebo Versus Oral Midazolam Plus Oral Transmucosal Fentanyl for Sedation during Laceration Repair." Pediatrics 109 (May 2002): 894–897.

Pratt, A. L., N. Burr, and A. O. Grobbelaar. "A Prospective Review of Open Central Slip Laceration Repair and Rehabilitation." The Journal of Hand Surgery: Journal of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand 27 (December 2002): 530–534.

Singer, A. J., J. V. Quinn, H. C. Thode Jr., and J. E. Hollander. "Determinants of Poor Outcome after Laceration and Surgical Incision Repair." Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 110 (August 2002): 429–437.


The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses, Inc. (AORN). 2170 South Parker Rd, Suite 300, Denver, CO 80231-5711. (800) 755-2676. .


"Cuts and Scrapes." Mayo Clinic Online. .

"A Systematic Approach to Laceration Repair." Postgraduate Medicine Page. .

"Wound Repair." Family Practice Notebook. .

Mary Jeanne Krob, MD, FACS
Monique Laberge, PhD


Primary care physicians, emergency room physicians, and surgeons usually repair lacerations. All physicians are trained in the basics of wound assessment, cleansing, and anesthesia. They are also familiar with the basic suturing techniques and have the experience required to attend to the details of wound repair, such as proper selection and preparation of equipment, careful wound preparation, appropriate use of specific closure methods, and effective patient education, required to avoid wound infection and excessive scarring.

Laceration repair is routinely performed in hospitals and clinics on an outpatient basis.


User Contributions:

It is not easy to receive help for lacerations. I have been cut by a malpractising doctor in Denmark and I have several deep lacerations going through epidermis and down into the deep fascie in my back buttocks, which has spread to my abdomen.
If any skilled and good cooperative doctor reads this and want to help saving my life, I would be deeply gratefull.
can laceration wound be explained by taking an example or a case for a better understanding..thank you
I wish to ask a question about the aftermath of laceration repair. I am 25years old and a teacher. I am a victim of "Laceration Repair" and the outcome of the procedure has been good and bad. The begining of the process was successful but over this past few months, I have been feeling some pains at the area of the laceration (on the left part of my forehead). I have taken all the medications the doctor gave me, but the pain would not subdue. What should I do? Please help me.
I want to know the name of ointment and cream for remove scale of wound and laceration.
I have a laceration to lower left leg above ankle with 21 staples. 500lb rock fell on me. The gash was below fatty skin. My concern is nerve damage. One of my toes is purple as well as my foot at times. Should I be concern?
marta Fernandez
my daughter had a laceration repair done on her nose. suture were remove early and the cut reopen. the nurse put glue and stripes to keep it close. but they didn't work. what can I do so my daughter wont scar very much?
I have a laceration about 3 inches long and 2 inches deep to my forearm. The doctor used ONLY non-absorbable, even though my muscle layer was CLEARLY damaged and lacerated as well. I warned him that half of my hand and pinky were numb, and he told me to disregard it. He did not feel around in the wound, just stitched me up. 10 days post-op I still have what appears to be swelling beneath the repair, numbness in my hand and pinky, and "shock-like" sensations to my hand and finger when I move a certain way. I cannot make a fist, unscrew lids, put my hair in a pony tail, lift over 3#... pretty much in capable of using the affected limb at its entirety. My question is, should i have gotten (even subcuticular sutures) internal absorbable sutures? Is there a danger in NOT getting them? Does this sound like potential nerve/muscle damage? When should I start seeing improvement? THANK YOU
kaylee i have the same wound and symptoms but a longer laceration. What were your results?
I got a cut stitched up 7 days ago and is not healing. There is blood draining. But not infected. What is the reason fot this?
Jamie Marie Scott
I have a deep laceration in leg right under my knee from a car accident which was stitched up. Stitches are still in. Its been 6 days. Is it ok for me to walk on the leg? I was not given crutches

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