Nov 7, 2008

Stitches in the lip

I'm sorry for the late posting today! I've spent the last day taking care of my younger son, who managed to split his lower lip at daycare yesterday. Apparently, he was pushing a push toy outside and fell. He has a small cut inside his mouth, and another small cut on the outside of his lower lip.

I couldn't tell if he needed stitches or not, so I spoke with the nurse at the pediatrician's office twice. She said to check if the skin was coming together, or if there was a space. Unfortunately, I really couldn't tell.

She told me that they couldn't take care of my son before they closed, so I took him to the pediatric urgent care in the evening. I have to say, their services are worth every penny of the $75 facility fee. There's a much shorter wait compared to the emergency room, and they have almost all of the resources they need.

The doctor saw us pretty quickly and said she thought the cut was on the borderline for needing stitches. She wanted to consult with a plastic surgeon, so we had to wait around quite some time for that. The first one she called never called her back, but the second one actually came over from his office. Apparently he was working late, and when he got the page he decided to drop in instead of doing a phone consult.

The plastic surgeon checked the cut and recommended stitches, because the cut is right at the Vermilion border, or where the lip meets the skin. He explained that stitches would make sure the skin lines up properly when it heals. I won't go into the details of how the stitches were put in (mostly because I tried not to look), but my boy did great.

I also took my son to his pediatrician today just to make sure everything looked right, which it does. His regular pediatrician said he was glad the stitches were put in because of the location of the cut. So, apparently it's important to stitch up cuts that are located at the Vermilion border to ensure proper healing. If nothing else, at least I get to pass along that little nugget of information - although I do hope you'll never need it!

The stitches will stay in for 5 to 8 days and in the meantime, I am supposed to keep them "greasy" with an antibiotic ointment. I am also not to let a clot or scab form on the outside, but if one appears, I am to remove it with hydrogen peroxide. My skin crawled when the plastic surgeon gave me those instructions, but a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. The nurse was kind enough to warn me that the hydrogen peroxide will foam when it comes into contact with the blood. I'm glad she told me because I probably would have freaked out the first time it happened.

So, thus far my son is doing okay but I do find that I sound even more like a broken record than usual: Take your hands out of your mouth. Keep your hands away from your face. Gentle!

Alas, I'm sure this won't be our last trip to urgent care!

*Previously: Our First Trip to Urgent Care

Image credit: Little MD kit at


Anonymous said...

Have your child checked out by the pediatric dentist periodically. I was tripped in kindergarten (I'm now 41), and I split my chin. The split required 2 stitches, but I had an abcess in my gums that remained silently (it appears as a dark area in x-rays). It started to kill my grown-up teeth when I was in my early 30's. The dead teeth had to have root canals, and antiseptic medication was stuffed into those teeth to get rid of the abcess. If I had done nothing, more teeth would have died, or I could have had a serious infection.

Anytime I hear about children falling and hitting their mouths or teeth, I tell them my story. My own 3-year-old fell and knocked in her front teeth. So far, she's only needed one root canal for the most damaged tooth. Now, it's just watchful waiting to see if there is any sign of infection or abcess. One year on, it's so far, so good.

katy said...

Poor little guy. How did he handle the stitches and I'm assuming he had an injection to numb the area?

Dr. Mom said...

Sorry to hear about Tyler. Hope he is feeling better! Last year my six year old broke his collar bone while in after school care. A "friend" was playing and flung him down by his arm which snapped the bone. He wasn't too upset when I came to get him and was playing at the hospital. I almost left because I didn't think it was too bad. I had my two younger children with me and my husband was in China. I am glad I stayed because the xray looked scary seeing the broken bone. There weeks later he was good as new.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Yune - Yikes! Thank you for sharing your experience. I will definitely mention it to the dentist at our next appointment - in fact, since we were just there, I may call and ask them to put a note in his file. I'm glad your daughter is okay, though I'm sorry she's already needed a root canal!

@Katy - Thank you, and yes, I think it was actually more than one injection. I was trying not to really look then, too, though, so I'm not exactly sure what the doctor did. There was actually a lot more blood from the injection than from the cut itself, which was rather disturbing. But I trust the doctor knew what he was doing!

@Dr. Mom - Oh my! I definitely would have thought about leaving the hospital too, in that situation. What I usually do is ask myself if I would regret not taking him in, and if the answer is yes, I make myself do it. I'm glad your son was okay!