Children are accident-prone, and lacerations that require sutures are unfortunately common. As a parent, it’s important to plan ahead for an emergency situation so you know what to do and who to call if your child is facing an injury. In addition to meticulously repairing a laceration so it will heal well and complications are avoided, a plastic surgeon is uniquely qualified to place sutures in such a way that unnecessary scarring can be avoided. In children, this is especially helpful so they can feel confident as they grow up. Dr. Ourian is available for pediatric laceration repair for patients in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
Pediatric laceration repair is a procedure to close a laceration, or wound in the skin. A plastic surgeon performs pediatric laceration repair to adequately treat the injury while ensuring minimal scarring for the child.
If your child is injured and is bleeding, the first step is to examine the wound and check whether they have a scratch (abrasion) or a cut that may require stitches. Lacerations that require stitches have a significant separation in the skin. If you can see fatty tissue, your child will require stitches and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Other signs that your child will require stitches include:
- Persistent bleeding after applying pressure for 10-15 minutes
- Laceration exceeds 1/8 – ¼ inch deep
- Dirt or other debris are visible in the laceration after cleaning
- The laceration is on a cosmetically sensitive area, such as the face
- The injury is in a high-stress area, such as the joints, hands, feet, or chest
- Extreme swelling
A plastic surgeon has specific expertise in closing a wound with the best possible cosmetic result. This is especially important if the laceration is jagged or uneven or if some of the skin is missing. Many parents prefer to see a plastic surgeon to treat lacerations so their children don’t have to worry about a scar as they grow up. In the event of an emergency, parents should bring their child to an emergency room to seek treatment. If their child is in a stable condition, they can call Dr. Ourian directly to perform their child’s laceration repair.
To complete a pediatric laceration repair, Dr. Ourian will typically use sutures to connect the tissues in layers to give the best possible outcome with minimal scarring. In most cases, local anesthesia is used to keep the patient comfortable throughout the procedure. Deep lacerations are generally treated using several layers of dsutures. Minor lacerations can often be treated using skin adhesives or Steri strips rather than sutures. In some areas, such as the scalp, staples are sometimes the best option to treat an injury. Excess or damaged tissue is removed to prevent infection. After the stitches are in place, Dr. Ourian will apply antibiotic ointment as necessary and cover the area with a light dressing.
After a pediatric laceration repair, children are sometimes prescribed antibiotics to lower the chance of infection. Non-dissolvable sutures can be removed 1 week after the procedure. Sutures in areas such as the hands, or a joint may require up to 2-3 weeks before they can be removed.
As the laceration heals, it’s important to prevent children from scratching, picking, or touching the wound or stitches to allow for proper healing. Parents should also refrain from touching the area or removing any materials themselves, aside from dressings as directed by Dr. Ourian.
After pediatric laceration repair, wounds generally heal in about two weeks. Some discomfort, swelling, and redness are normal during this period. Dr. Ourian will give you specific instructions regarding any medications, ointments, or other care you should follow until your next appointment. The scar will continue to improve and mature over the course of one year.
The cost of a pediatric laceration repair in Los Angeles varies depending on the severity of the laceration and the complexity of the repair, among other factors. Dr. Ourian’s team can give you a more accurate cost estimate after evaluating the injury.
In addition to pediatric laceration repair, Dr. Ourian treats children through, otoplasty, or “ear pinning.” This is a relatively simple procedure in which the size or projection of the ears is revised for a more flattering and balanced appearance. Because the ears are finished developing early in childhood, otoplasty can be performed at about five or six years old.
Frequently asked questions
- Can my child bathe with stitches?
- It’s important to avoid getting a laceration wet for 24 hours on the face or two days on the body. Children should not allow wounds to be submerged or soak in the bath or when swimming for two weeks with sutures.
- Will my child have a scar if a plastic surgeon performs their sutures?
- Having a plastic surgeon repair a laceration reduces the subsequent scarring, but if the skin is cut deeply enough to reveal fatty tissue, it is not possible to avoid scarring completely. Dr. Ourian’s goal when performing laceration repair is to reduce the width of the scar and improve its appearance. Any scarring should be subtle.
- How can I reduce scarring?
- For children, scars take about a year to mature. Properly caring for a wound as it heals is the best way to reduce scarring. Protecting the skin and wearing sunscreen regularly can also reduce scarring. Finally, professional scar reduction treatments can be performed when your child reaches adulthood.