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Video 5-29. Winch stitch
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This is a niche intraoperative tissue expansion approach. When closing wounds under marked tension, buried or transepidermal pulley sutures may be insufficient to permit closure. Placing a temporary winch stitch, in order to take advantage of mechanical tissue creep, aids in closing these select defects. The suture is removed intraoperatively, after other tension-relieving sutures have been placed.

Suture Material Choice

Since this is a temporary suture, choice of suture material is guided more by resilience and resistance to breakage than by any concern regarding permanent track marks. Therefore, a 2-0 or 3-0 monofilament nonabsorbable suture is generally appropriate in most areas where this technique would be used, such as the trunk and scalp.


  1. The needle is inserted perpendicular to the epidermis, approximately one-half the radius of the needle distant to the wound edge. This will allow the needle to exit the wound on the contralateral side at an equal distance from the wound edge by simply following the curvature of the needle.

  2. With a fluid motion of the wrist, the needle is rotated through the dermis, and the needle tip exits the skin on the contralateral side.

  3. The needle body is grasped with surgical forceps in the left hand, with care being taken to avoid grasping the needle tip, which can be easily dulled by repetitive friction against the surgical forceps.

  4. The loose tail of suture material may be secured in place with the aid of a hemostat.

  5. Starting proximal to the prior throw relative to the surgeon, steps (1) through (3) are then repeated sequentially until the desired number of throws is placed.

  6. The leading edge of suture is then tied to the loose end where the hemostat was placed (Figures 5-29A, 5-29B, 5-29C, 5-29D, 5-29E, 5-29F, 5-29G, 5-29H).

Figure 5-29A.

Overview of the winch stitch.

Figure 5-29B.

The needle is inserted at 90 degrees through the epidermis close to one pole of the wound.

Figure 5-29C.

The needle is then inserted on the contralateral side, exiting through the skin.

Figure 5-29D.

Moving along the wound edge, the needle is again inserted through the skin at 90 degrees.

Figure 5-29E.

The needle is then inserted on the contralateral wound edge. This pattern continues along the length of the wound.

Figure 5-29F.

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