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Lateral pulley buried dermal suture, set back pulley dermal suture

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Video 4-22. Half pulley buried dermal suture
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This technique is best used in areas under very significant tension and can be conceptualized as existing on the spectrum between single and double buried vertical mattress sutures. It is similar to the half pulley buried vertical mattress suture, but with the extra loop placed at the beginning, rather than the end, of the technique.

Wounds under marked tension may be challenging to close even with well-placed buried sutures. The half pulley buried dermal suture technique relies on the pulley effect of multiple loops of suture to permit the closure of wounds under even significant tension. In addition, the locking effect of placing a double loop of suture leads the suture material to lock in place after the first throw of the surgical knot, obviating the need for an assistant maintaining the alignment of the wound edges.

Suture Material Choice

Suture choice is dependent in large part on location. Though suture material traverses the papillary dermis and the incised wound edge, as always, the smallest gauge suture material appropriate for the anatomic location should be utilized. On the back and shoulders, 2-0 or 3-0 suture material is effective, though theoretically, the risk of suture spitting or suture abscess formation is greater with the thicker 2-0 suture material. This needs to be weighed against the benefit of utilizing a larger CP-2 needle, which will almost never bend even in the thickest dermis, and the benefit of adopting the 2-0 suture material, which is less likely to snap under tension or fail during tension-bearing activities, leading to attendant dehiscence. On the extremities, a 3-0 or 4-0 absorbable suture material may be used. Braided suture tends to lock more definitively than monofilament, though monofilament suture allows for easy pull through when taking advantage of the pulley effect.


  1. The wound edge is reflected back using surgical forceps or hooks. Adequate visualization of the underside of the dermis is required.

  2. While reflecting back the dermis, the suture needle is inserted at 90 degrees into the underside of the dermis 4-8 mm distant from the incised wound edge.

  3. The first bite, which represents the extra pulley loop, is executed by traversing the dermis following the curvature of the needle and allowing the needle to exit closer to the incised wound edge. Care should be taken to remain in the dermis to minimize the risk of epidermal dimpling. The needle does not, however, exit through the incised wound edge, but rather 3-4 mm distant from the incised edge, as would be done with a set-back dermal suture. The size of this first loop is based on the size of the ...

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