Stitches, Derma-bond, and Scars – Oh My!
After having had to take both of my daughters to the Emergency Room in their first two years of life for facial lacerations (try saying that five times fast!) I’ve done quite a bit of research on the best ways to reduce scarring in young children. There are lots of helpful tips on the internet and I’ve learned quite a few things both there and from doctors, a plastic surgeon included. When my girls’ injuries first happened, I was so caught up on how they would each be left with a terrible scar. It really bothered me and I was, and still am, determined to make them as invisible as possible.
So, I’m going to share with you some of the things that I have learned in case you are ever in this position with your child, or even yourself! Please note that my experiences are both with facial lacerations in the forehead region so other areas of the body may have different protocol.
First, if you have any doubt in your mind whether or not the injury may need to be stitched, go to the Emergency Room. If a wound does require stitches they must be done within a certain amount of time, generally six to eight hours, but the sooner the better. It’s also important to control the bleeding as much as possible by putting pressure on the wound.
When you arrive at the emergency room, be sure to tell the intake person about how the wound happened, whether or not the person lost consciousness, and the severity of the bleeding. They should ask you most of this anyway, but be sure to volunteer it if not asked. Then you will have to wait which is the hard part.
Once you are taken back into the room, be sure that you or your child are being treated by a doctor and not just a physician’s assistant or nurse. In the case of a facial laceration, or would in another very obvious/prominent area of the body, you may want to seek more than one opinion on it’s treatment. This is a piece of advice that I wish I had known before taking Nora in. Also, if the wound is going to require stitches you always want to ask for a plastic surgeon to perform them whenever possible. Remember you are the patient/parent and you have a right to ask.
Whatever the case may be, stitches, Derma-bond or just a dressing, be sure to care for it properly when you get home. When Brinley had her stitches we had to put an antibiotic ointment with a band-aid on it for a week and then we had to take her in to the doctor to have the stitches removed. For Nora’s Derma-bond we were told not to put any type of ointment on it and not to get it wet for the first 24 hours. So be mindful of the proper care because it’s not always the same.
When I took Nora in to see her pediatrician for her follow-up visit, that is when I found out that I should have gotten a second opinion on the way in which her wound was treated. Her pediatrician felt that since it was a facial wound that it probably should have been stitched. Though he didn’t see the wound fresh so he couldn’t say that matter-of-factly. It killed me to know that I may not have done the right thing for her but I really had no idea that I should have pushed back. Lesson learned.
The most important factor in minimizing scars though, is the care that comes after the stitches are removed or the Derma-bond falls off. The number one most important thing is to make sure that you apply sun screen to the area every single day for at least a year. Even if it doesn’t seem sunny out or it’s the dead of winter, the virgin skin can still burn very easily. You also want to massage the scar to increase the circulation and help promote healing. It is recommended to use vitamin E oil and massage it into the scar. It’s not known whether the oil itself helps diminish the scar or if it’s the massaging. Maderma or some other scar reducing ointment is also recommended.
I am happy to report that Brinley’s scar from almost two years ago, where she received six stitches, is hardly visible at all. Granted it is in her hairline, but it still healed very well. Only time will tell with Nora’s but I have very high hopes. It already looks 100 times better since the Derma-bond has fallen off. In fact, we were at a BBQ this past weekend and no one even noticed it.
Every time I think about one of my girls being “scarred for life” it really eats away at me. But I heard something on the radio this weekend that made me look at scars in a bit of a different light…. “A scar is like a tattoo, but with a much better story.”
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I do not claim to be one. I also don’t play one on TV. The advice given above is based solely on my experience of having two daughters who have both visited the ER and were treated for facial lacerations. Please be sure to seek your own medical advice from a professional.