Single-layer versus double-layer closure of facial lacerations: a randomized controlled trial

Adam J Singer, Janet Gulla, Michele Hein, Scott Marchini, Stuart Chale, Balvantray P Arora
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2005, 116 (2): 363-8; discussion 369-70

BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to compare the cosmetic outcome of facial lacerations closed with a single or double layer of sutures.

METHODS: Patients aged 1 year or older presenting to a university-based emergency department with nongaping (width, < 10 mm), simple, nonbite, facial lacerations were randomized to closure with a single layer of simple interrupted 6-0 polypropylene sutures or a double layer of simple interrupted 6-0 polypropylene plus inverted deep dermal 5-0 polyglactin sutures. At 90 days, the scar width and cosmetic appearance were determined using a validated 100-mm visual analogue scale ranging from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) and a validated wound evaluation score ranging from 0 (worst) to 6 (best).

RESULTS: Sixty-five patients were randomized to single-layer (n = 32) or double-layer (n = 33) closure. Mean age (SD) was 18.5 years (20.0), and 14 percent were female. Groups were similar in baseline patient and wound characteristics. Length of single-layer closure was 7 minutes shorter (95 percent CI, 2 to 11 minutes) than double-layer closure. There were no infections or dehiscences in either group. There were no between-group differences in patient (mean difference, 0.5 mm; 95 percent CI, -5.7 to 6.6 mm) or practitioner (mean difference, 1.0 mm; 95 percent CI, -4.8 to 6.7 mm) visual analogue scale scores. All but one patient had an optimal wound evaluation score of 6 (p = not significant). Scar width was similar at 90 days (mean difference, 0.2 mm; 95 percent CI, -0.05 to 0.5).

CONCLUSIONS: Single-layer closure of nongaping, minor (< 3 cm) facial lacerations is faster than double-layer closure. Cosmetic outcome and scar width are similar in sutured wounds whether or not deep dermal sutures are used.

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