Skin glue sounds like something that accidentally used to happen in kindergarten when making crafts. But it’s a real thing and it can spell the difference between scarring and having smooth skin. Skin glue is a medical adhesive designed to join the edges of a wound together. This helps the wound heal without the threat of breaking open or being exposed to the air – something that can’t be guaranteed with a simple bandage.
Skin glue, a polymer-based liquid or pasty substance known as cyanoacrylate, can be used by doctors and nurses to close wounds instead of using other methods like stitches, staples or adhesive tape. It’s safe for both kids and adults, and can be used for simple wounds or cuts that have straight edges.
It’s often used after operations or procedures like laparoscopies, skin lesion removal and the like. It can be used on many body parts such as face and head, torso, arms and legs. It’s generally not used for wounds with jagged edges, deep wounds, bleeding wounds, animal bites, punctures, or ulcers. It’s also not used for moist, sensitive areas such as lips, inside the mouth, armpits or groin areas.
Skin glue is brushed on in thin layers to form a protective seal that connects either side of the wound. It takes a few minutes for each layer to dry, and in general the skin glue will naturally slough off in about a week or two as your wound starts to heal. This allows for the formation of new skin underneath.
While it’s not always possible to completely avoid some level of scarring, skin glue greatly reduces the chance that your wound will break open and in turn increase your chance of scarring.
Wounds that are interrupted during the healing process by breaking open are more likely to result in thicker, more prominent scars. It may take up to six months to see a skin glue scar start to fade, but you can help the process along with a topical scar reduction gel or cream such as Scarfade. This is a silicone scar gel that you can easily apply after the glue sheds and the wound continues to heal.
In general, skin glue is at its most effective when the edges of the wound are flat, straight and less than two inches in length. It’s best not to use it on joints, but it’s OK for the face, upper or lower body, legs and arms – or anywhere else with not too much tension.
While it can certainly be used alone, it can also be used in conjunction with sutures that will dissolve later. Surgeons sometimes choose to close an incision underneath the outer skin layer of skin with sutures, then use skin glue on the outer layer of the edges so you don’t have to go back later to take out staples or stitches.
Once the wound starts to heal, you can start using Scarfade to help the process along and reduce scarring.