Which Type of Suture Pad is Right for Me?

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Learning how to suture is essential if you're a nursing or medical student. Though you can try suturing on a number of substances, from pigs' feet to fruit skins, nothing beats a real suture pad.

A practice suture kit often contains a suture pad for you to practice your stitching. But did you know there are a few different types of suture pads you can choose from?

In this guide, we'll explore all the different suture kits and suture pad options available to you. Armed with the right tools, you can become the best possible healthcare worker you can be.

The Beginner's Pad: The Translucent Suture Pad

For those students just starting out, a translucent suture pad is a great place to begin. Translucent pads allow you to get a better understanding of what's going on underneath the skin, as well as on top of it.

When you're first learning to suture, it's important to understand the spacing and depth of each of your stitches. Translucent pads allow you to do just that.

With a translucent suture pad, you can practice the following basics of stitching and superficial sutures:

  • Simple interrupted sutures
  • Simple continuous sutures
  • Interrupted sutures
  • Knot security
  • Basic stitching patterns

Many translucent pads also come with pre-cut incisions or suture guide dots. These give you an easy-to-understand guide for how and where to place your sutures, without any guesswork.

The translucent pad helps you build good habits, so your sutures will look perfect as you move on to more advanced training.

Realism in Action: 3-Layer Suture Pads

After you've got a better understanding of the basics, such as placement and needle depth, you can move on to more realistic suture pads. The 3-layer suture pad is a great next step.

Human skin contains three layers, so it only makes sense that your suture pad should too. The layers of the pad mimic the real-life layers of skin. This includes:

  1. Dermis / Epidermis
  2. Subcutaneous fatty layer
  3. Fascia

You can get these pads in both dark and light skin tones. It is a good idea to practice with both, as the experience may be different depending on the skin tone of your patient.

Darker skin tones have less needle visibility, and therefore may be more difficult to suture. Practicing on both light and dark skin tones helps ensure every patient gets the same exquisite level of care without excess scarring, risk of infection, or longer healing times.

Most 3-layer suture pads feature a reinforced epidermal layer that pulls in almost the same way human skin does. Like translucent pads, 3-layer pads are good for learning superficial sutures. They are especially good for focusing on your knot security and needle depth.

Advanced Skills: The 5- and 6-Layer Pads

For more advanced students, 5- and 6-layer suture pads allow students to get even deeper into the skin. These pads are ideal for learning buried sutures or subcuticular sutures.

5-layer suture pads allow you to learn a second layer of stitch closures. The layers featured here represent:

  1. Dermis / Epidermis
  2. Subcutaneous fat
  3. First fascia layer
  4. Muscle layer
  5. Second fascia layer

Buried sutures are ideal for patients who worry about the aesthetics of their wounds. They reduce tension on the dermis, making for a nicer-looking scar. However, you perform this type of suturing on a subcutaneous level, so it's important to practice with the right suture pad.

6-layer suture pads go even deeper. These are essential for learning subcuticular sutures.

There are actually 6 layers because this type of pad separates the dermal and epidermal layers. These layers are then appropriately reinforced to more closely mimic human skin.

Like the 3-layer pads, there are both dark and light skin tone options available for these suturing pads. Remember, it is essential to use your stitching kit and practice on both options, as the experience may be different.

Learning Specialty Techniques

Some 5- and 6-layer pads also feature moles or other skin features to help you learn more specialized techniques. These are a great option for those learning to be surgeons or dermatologists, or nurses in more specialized fields.

You can use these pads to learn how to perform a biopsy or mole removal. They're also a good opportunity to practice skin reconstruction techniques.

There are also specialized 3-layer pads that feature skin lesions. This allows you to practice biopsy methods such as:

  • Punching
  • Shaving
  • Excisional biopsy
  • Snip biopsy

There are even suturing pads available for learning how to drain skin lesions, practice injections, and other incision techniques. Whichever medical field you're learning, it is essential to have the right tools to perfect your technique.

How to Choose a Suture Kit

You can use your suture kit to practice on a suture pad. Suture kits usually contain a variety of needle types, forceps, scissors, and other essential tools for learning the art of a good stitch.

Some suture kits even contain a suture pad of their own. Usually, this will be a simple single or 3-layer pad. More specialty techniques will generally require a more specialized suture kit.

To choose the right suture kit, be sure to review all the included contents. The right suture kit will allow you to learn all the required techniques for your field, no matter how specialized.

Perfect Stitches Make for Happy Patients

Practicing your sutures is the best way to ensure every patient gets the perfect stitch. A suture pad is the best way to practice your suturing technique, no matter how specialized your field is.

Shop our suture kits to start developing your essential suturing skills. Not only will the right training help your grades, but it'll make sure you have happy patients every time, too.

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