Learning how to properly suture up a good-sized cut and apply stitches isn’t just important for tough-guy protagonists in action movies, it’s also a skill that could very literally save your life or the life of someone you love.
While the best thing you can do for anyone that’s got a serious injury is getting them to medical attention as quickly as possible, some circumstances just won’t allow it: operating in unfriendly territory, surviving in the aftermath of a natural disaster or amid a period of civil unrest are a few examples of situations that just won’t permit a run to the local ER. In some extreme cases, it may be on you to stitch yourself or a buddy up in order to keep them alive or in the fight, and if that situation were ever to arise, it would pay to be familiar with the process ahead of time.
As I’ve proven time and time again (through a combination of being clumsy and having a thing for potentially dangerous activities), once the blood starts flowing, it’s no longer the time to be figuring things out. The more knowledge you have about what to do in a bad situation, the less likely you are to make a potentially life-threatening mistake.
Of course, the best thing you can do is receive training in trauma first-aid from a reputable source. Nevertheless, it still doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself, via instructional videos that you can find online, with the process and tenets of how to apply stitches. These videos do not serve as a viable replacement for good quality training, but do offer a great way to learn some bits and pieces about complex topics from the comfort of your own couch or desk — as G.I. Joe always so eloquently put it, knowing is half the battle.
Wired actually has a pretty interesting library of expert testimonial videos, ranging from speech experts breaking down accents in films to NASA astronauts discussing depictions of space travel. Trauma surgeon Annie Onishi has appeared in a number of these videos, talking about depictions of surgery and medical practices in film.
In her latest video, she skips the pop-culture dissection in favor of giving a crash course in suture application and surgical knot tying. Stitches may look simple when applied by a trained physician, but if you’re anything like me (and a little rusty on your friendship bracelet making), it might do you some good to see how a pro does it.
Before you know it, you’ll be successfully suturing up bananas in your kitchen, in preparation for the real thing.
This article was first published in December 2019. It has been edited for republication.
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