Stitches (cont.)

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Are there any special considerations regarding wound repair?

People with diabetes or those with peripheral vascular disease may have delayed healing and increased risk of infection.

Animal bites are especially prone to infection, and the decision to repair a bite with sutures must balance the risk of infection with the benefit of a better-looking scar. Approximately 50% of dog bites, 80% of cat bites, and 100% of human bites will become infected.

When the risk of infection is high, the health-care provider may choose from a different options to help the wound to heal. When the laceration is cleansed and dressed and not repaired, it will gradually heal on its own. This called healing by secondary intention. (Primary closure describes a wound that is sutured or stitched.)

Another alternative is delayed primary closure, in which a potential dirty or contaminated wound is cleaned and dressed and then evaluated in a few days (usually two or three). If it has not become infected, it might be possible to then suture it closed, as if it is a new injury.


Pfenninger, J.L., and G.C. Fowler. Procedures for Primary Care, 3rd edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2010.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/18/2015

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