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Buried horizontal mattress suture

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Video 4-11. Percutaneous horizontal mattress suture
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As with other percutaneous approaches, this technique is designed to allow for excellent tension relief while concomitantly permitting easy suture placement in relatively tight spaces. It is best suited to areas with thicker dermis, though it may also be utilized in any body area when tension-relieving sutures must be placed and where insertion of the full needle is challenging.

Suture Material Choice

Suture choice is dependent in large part on location. Though suture material travels percutaneously, exiting the epidermis and then reentering, the smallest gauge suture material appropriate for the anatomic location should be utilized. On the back and shoulders, 2-0 or 3-0 suture material is effective, though theoretically the risk of suture spitting or suture abscess formation is greater with the thicker 2-0 suture material, particularly where the material has exited the epidermis entirely. On the extremities, a 3-0 or 4-0 absorbable suture material may be used, and on the face and areas under minimal tension, a 5-0 absorbable suture is adequate.


  1. The wound edge is reflected back using surgical forceps or hooks. In areas under marked tension or where full visualization is not possible, the needle may be blindly inserted from the undermined space.

  2. The suture needle is inserted perpendicular to the incision line at a 90-degree angle into the underside of the dermis 4 mm distant from the incised wound edge.

  3. The first bite is started by following the needle and traversing from the underside of the dermis in the undermined space and passing entirely through the dermis and exiting the skin.

  4. The needle is then reloaded onto the needle driver and inserted through the epidermis either directly through the same hole as the suture followed during exit, or just distal to it, with the needle-oriented parallel to the incision line. A shallow bite is taken, staying in the superficial dermis, exiting on the same side of the incision line distal to the entry point.

  5. The needle is then reloaded and inserted into the same hole or just medial to it, while being held perpendicular to the incision line. The needle should travel through the full thickness of the skin, exiting on the undersurface of the undermined dermis.

  6. The needle is then reloaded and enters the undersurface of the undermined dermis on the contralateral wound edge, exiting through the surface of the epidermis. This step may be combined with the prior step, and the needle can be inserted into the contralateral wound edge while it is still loaded from the initial pass.

  7. The needle is then loaded and inserted either through the same hole or just proximal to it, oriented parallel to the incision line but in the opposite direction ...

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