Sutures or Staples? The Best Choice For Your C-Section

Talking about c-sections can be quite scary for some, especially for those faced with high-risk pregnancies. It is considered a major abdominal surgery that often results in longer recoveries, and with that can come further complications, including wound separations and more post-operative physician visits. For those faced with c-sections as a backup delivery method, it’s important to understand the differences between sutures and staples, the two types of closing methods most surgeons will use for open wounds. 

How Do C-Sections Work? What’s The Difference? 

Unlike natural deliveries, which rely on the uterus to press down and hormonal contractions to pass through the pelvic bone, c-sections access the child through multiple layers of skin above the pubic hairline. The opening is about 10 centimeters long, as that is the average length the cervix is dilated to birth a baby vaginally. C-sections can occur either as an emergency c-section or a scheduled c-section, and depending on the surgeon present at your delivery, they can use either two methods to close the 10-centimeter wound:

  • Staples: Staples are what they sound like, similar to what’s used on paper but are sterilized. The skin is stapled together using a small handheld stapler to hold the sides of the skin together and allow them to heal. Staples will need to be removed after the 5th day of healing and often requires additional visits. 
  • Sutures: Sutures, on the other hand, are an invisible, synthetic fabric that can be used to sew the skin together. After the surgery, the surgeon will use sutures to sew the skin together and then eventually dissolve over time as the skin heals. They typically dissolve within a week and don’t require any additional visits. 

So, which option is better for a c-section? It depends on how your scars heal to determine that. For women who had multiple c-section deliveries, sutures and staples can heal them the same, leaving similar scars in their place. However, some studies have shown that staples have a higher risk of wound separations and infections due to the materials used, especially when compared to sutures. However, it is important in these scenarios to know that one of the most important aspects of scar health is the healing process, including keeping the incision clean and dry with daily checks after your delivery. By keeping it clean and dry, you can prevent the onset of wound separations or infections for better delivery. 

Speak with Your Fetal-Medicine Specialists About Your Options

To learn more about what you can do to prepare for emergency c-sections, choose options for delivery methods, and other concerns you may have, the best place to go is to your obstetrician, gynecologist, or maternal-fetal medicine specialist for more information. Through your medical care team, they can provide you with the advice and care you need to make decisions about how to best prepare for your delivery. If you have any concerns about your healing, notice pain, redness, swelling, or other concerns, speak to your maternal-fetal medicine specialist to schedule an appointment.