How do I know if my child's cut needs a plastic surgeon?

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

If in any doubt about the severity, extent, and need for a plastic surgeon for your child's laceration, request one. Full thickness lacerations in visible locations, especially along the face should be evaluated by a Board Certified Plastic surgeon if available. Fine suturing may be required to reduce future scarring. Cuts or lacerations along the mouth, periorbital, or nasal area should often be repaired by the plastic surgeon. Smaller lacerations, that are not full thickness, may be cleaned and closed by emergency physicians at their discretion. Remember, if in any doubt, request a plastic surgeon if you are uncertain and if available.

Your child's cut may need a plastic surgeon if it is very deep, extensive or has jagged curves.

Let’s say your child has a nasty cut that seems like it may leave a scar in a visible place. Should you get a plastic surgeon to tend to it? Go to the emergency department (ED)? Or have your pediatrician close the wound in an office visit?

It depends on the location and how deep the cut is. If possible, talk to your pediatrician before heading to the ED. Sometimes smaller lacerations can be treated and closed with new super skin glues or Steri-Strips right in your doctor’s office. If the injury warrants a trip to the emergency department, the ED docs stitch people up all the time, so they are pretty expert at making fine cross-stitches and being sensitive to scarring issues. However, if a laceration is very jagged, many layers deep, or located over a joint, or there is potential for nerve damage, then I would recommend having a plastic surgeon do the job. I’d also recommend seeing a plastic surgeon for large lacerations on the face, mainly for cosmetic reasons.

From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.


The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

More About this Book

The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do! "Moms and dads need expert guidelines, especially when it comes to their kids' health. This book reveals the inside strategies I use myself-I'm a parent, too!-to avoid critical, common blunders where it matters most: in the ER, pediatrics ward, all-night pharmacy, exam room, or any other medical hot spot for kids. These tips could save your child's life one day. Even tomorrow." -Dr. Jen Making health care decisions for your child can be overwhelming in this age of instant information. It's easy to feel like you know next to nothing or way too much. Either way, you may resort to guessing instead of making smart choices. That's why the nation's leading health care oversight group, The Joint Commission, joined forces with Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg on this book: to help you make the right decisions, whether you're dealing with a checkup or a full-blown crisis. The Smart Parent's Guide will give you the information you need to manage the pediatric health care system. Dr. Jen understands the questions parents face—as a mom, she's faced them herself. She walks you through everything: from how to choose the best ER for kids (not adults) to when to give a kid medicine (or not to) to how pediatricians care for their own children (prepare to be surprised). Her goal is your goal: to protect the health of your children. There simply is nothing more important.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.