Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android


Modified locking horizontal mattress

Vedio Graphic Jump Location
Video 5-07. Locking horizontal mattress suture
Play Video


This is a modification of the horizontal mattress suture. As with many interrupted techniques, it may be used alone for wounds under minimal tension, such as those formed by a small punch biopsy or a traumatic laceration. It is also frequently used as a secondary layer to aid in everting the wound edges when the dermis has been closed using a deep suturing technique. This technique may also be used in the context of atrophic skin, as the broader anchoring bites may help limit the tissue tear-through that may be seen with a simple interrupted suture. This locking variation confers two advantages over the traditional horizontal mattress suture: better ease of suture removal and improved wound-edge apposition.

Suture Material Choice

With all techniques, it is best to use the thinnest suture possible in order to minimize the risk of track marks and foreign-body reactions. Suture choice will depend largely on anatomic location and the goal of suture placement. Locking horizontal mattress sutures may be placed with the goal of (1) effecting eversion or (2) adding an additional layer of closure for wound stability and dead-space minimization.

On the face, a 6-0 or 7-0 monofilament suture may be used, though fast-absorbing gut may be used on the eyelids and ears to obviate the need for suture removal; in these cases, standard horizontal mattress sutures are probably preferable to their locking counterparts. When the goal of the horizontal mattress suture placement is solely to encourage wound-edge eversion, fine-gauge suture material may be used on the extremities as well. Otherwise, 5-0 monofilament suture material is useful if there is minimal tension, and 4-0 monofilament suture may be used in areas under moderate tension where the goal of suture placement is relieving tension as well as epidermal approximation. In select high-tension areas, 3-0 monofilament suture may be utilized as well.


  1. The needle is inserted perpendicular to the epidermis, approximately one-half the radius of the needle distant to the wound edge. This will allow the needle to exit the wound on the contralateral side at an equal distance from the wound edge by simply following the curvature of the needle.

  2. With a fluid motion of the wrist, the needle is rotated through the dermis, taking the bite wider at the deep margin than at the surface, and the needle tip exits the skin on the contralateral side.

  3. The needle body is grasped with surgical forceps in the left hand, with care being taken to avoid grasping the needle tip, which can be easily dulled by repetitive friction against the surgical forceps. It is gently grasped and pulled upward with the surgical forceps as the body ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.