Surgery is a word that most of us hope we would never hear. As carefree as we may be from day to day, news of illness or injury is always a gutting reminder of how fleeting our lives can be.
We may live pridefully for being on the top of the food chain, but we are fragile creatures who are susceptible to several dangers. Though it is discomforting to think of our mortality, we must be aware of the reality around us. As confident as we may be in ourselves, extra self-care never does any harm.
Stress, health troubles, mental and physical wounds, all these things come and go with time. As much as we may dread going to the doctor, a little tumble here and there is inevitable.
However, there may be incidents which are more serious than the others. As scary as these situations can be, one must be prepared to give themselves or their loved ones the care and treatment that they need.
Today, we are going to dive into the topic of surgery and surgical staples. Surgery can be done for a variety of reasons which range from removal of bodily obstructions to redirecting blood-flow.
Surgery need not always be a cause of alarm. Some surgeries, like a C-section delivery, can be a reason for happiness. Hence, knowing more about them is not only to prepare you for the worst-case scenario but also the best-case ones.
If you think about surgery and find yourself dreading the idea of stitches, you might just feel a little lighter. In this article, we are going to discuss a component in surgical procedures that are used to close the incision: surgical staples.
What are surgical staples?
Surgical staples are specialized staples which are used to close wounds, such as incisions made after surgery. They are an alternative to stitches and result in quicker closing of the wound, along with a lower inflammatory response.
When it comes to large injuries or complex surgeries, surgical staples might be preferred over stitches. They are easier to apply, sometimes being less painful and may even lower the risk of future post-surgery complications such as infections. Surgical staples can also reside in your body permanently to connect internal tissues is necessary.
They can be used in several scenarios. For example, surgical staples are often used in C-section procedures so that the incision can mend faster, also giving a much less-visible scar.
What are surgical staples made of?
So, what are surgical staples made of? Well, they’re not the same as the stationary staples you use and hence, proper materials must be chosen for them. Since they go in your body, not only does the material have to be sturdy, but also safe to use.
A large number of surgical staples are made of stainless steel or metals like titanium, chromium, nickel, etc. Titanium, in particular, has been observed to be effective on both bone and tissues. It also has lesser chances of causing infection or inflammation post-surgery.
However, some people are allergic to certain metals. For them, plastic can be used as an alternative material to make surgical staples. Plastic surgical staples may also help in reducing the appearance of scars.
Another material which can be used is a polylactide-polyglycolide copolymer. Unlike usual surgical staplers, these are absorbable, often being used in plastic surgery.
How Are They Applied?
Applying surgical staples is a quick procedure as compared to stitches. These require a special stapler, which resembles a construction stapler.
After fixing the position of the stapler, your doctor only needs to push down on the lever of the stapler to insert the staples. Through this, they can place the staples accurately over the wound.
How long do surgical staples stay in?
Okay, so you’re not as scared of surgical staples as you were before, but you still want to know how long they remain in your body. Well, the answer to that varies depending on the nature of your surgery.
Factors like the direction and size of the incision, the severity of the injury, the typical healing period of that area, etc. will determine how long do surgical staples stay in.
For examples, staples used to close a vertical incision will take longer to remove and will stay around 7 to 10 days, or more. As compared to that, staples used on a horizontal incision may be removed quicker, even taking as less as 3 to 4 days for certain cases.
You will likely have a lot of post-surgery checkups, where your doctor will observe the healing process of your wound. If they find that the area has mended well and shows no signs of infection, they will prepare to remove it.
In certain cases, like internal injuries, the surgical staples might need to stay permanently for safer functioning of your body.
How to take care of surgical staples?
Getting surgery is only one step in the road towards healing. Merely having surgical staples close your wounds will do you no good if you do not take care of them. As the staples remain in your body until they are removed, you will need to look after them.
Your doctor will give you post-operative care instructions which you need to follow thoroughly.
Some of those may include:
1. Not removing any bandages or dressings over the wound until your doctor determines that it is safe. Under no circumstances should you try removing the surgical staples at home. That should only be done by a proper professional.
2. Rinsing the area gently with clean water around twice a day to make sure that the wound stays hygienic.
3. Using petroleum jelly and a sterile bandage to keep the area safely covered, as per instructions from your doctor
4. Replacing the bandages at least once a day or when necessary, after asking your doctor if you can do it at home. This is done to avoid infection in case the bandage gets wet.
Always make sure to ask your doctor about any doubts or concerns that you may have, about surgical staples and write down all the instructions carefully. Some of these might seem basic to you, but going over them a couple of times will only make things safer.
Things to look out for
Taking care of your wound also means observing the way it heals from day-to-day. In case of any harmful or negative changes, you will need to contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Here are a few signs you should watch out for when you use surgical staples:
1. Bleeding from the incision or redness/swelling of that area.
2. Any increase in the size or depth of the area which has been stapled.
3. Experiencing severe or intense pain as compared to before.
4. Having a fever of 100°F or higher, which lasts around 4 hours or even longer.
5. Observing a yellow, brown or green coloured discharged from the affected region, such as pus which smells bad.
6. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction as a result of the material used in the surgical staples.
7. Other signs such as darker or drier appearance around the area which has been stapled.
Remember to stay vigilant and to inform your doctor about any changes you might see. It’s always better to be safe and clear any concerns you might have, no matter how small. Tending to surgical stables is a learning process and it’s okay to be unsure. As you continue to heal day after day, you will get better at handling these new changes.
Practising proper self-care
Ultimately, the first rule is to always look after yourself. We understand that you may feel scared or nervous to read about such things, but remember that you are only doing it so that you can love yourself better during the hard times. It may get tiring or exhausting to adjust to new self-care habits, but with each step, you will grow.
It may not be easy, but we promise you that it will be worth it, when you have made it to the end of that healing road, knowing that you had your own back all the way through. After all, we only get this once chance to exist as ourselves. Shouldn’t we do our best to make it a safe, happy, and healthy one?