How to Use a Skin Staple Remover

Use a Skin Staple Remover
Use a Skin Staple Remover (Image: Pictures courtesy of Google Images)

These days, many lacerations, surgical incisions and other skin injuries are closed with metallic surgical skin staples. Most are put in place in an emergency room or an operating room. At some point, they have to come out. Using a skin staple remover should make the job easier and less traumatic for the patient. Let's explore the how-to of staple removal.

Things You'll Need

  • Examination gloves
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Disinfectant swabs
  • Gauze pads
  • Bandages

Before removing skin staples, you must be sure the wound is sufficiently healed. If you remove staples from a wound that hasn't properly healed, it can lead to the unintended opening of the wound edges, called dehiscence. Wounds typically heal in approximately 10 to 14 days. Scalp and facial wounds tend to heal a bit faster because of rich blood supplies to those areas.

Put on the protective gloves. They need not be sterile, but they should be clean and antiseptic. Cleanse the skin, wound and staples with an appropriate cleanser/disinfectant, such as 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or Betadine solutions. Make sure you remove any caked-on, dried blood or other debris from the staples to make them easier to reach.

Grasp the skin staple remover in your dominant hand (the device works in either hand), in a manner similar to when you are holding a pair of scissors. The thumb should be on the top lever of the remover.
Some staple remover handles are fashioned with rings like scissors, while others have flat handles.

Slide the lower jaw of the staple remover under the middle portion of the first staple, at either end of the wound. It's much easier to start at one end versus the middle, as there won't be any staples lagging behind the remover.

Squeeze the handles of the remover so that the jaws clamp down on the middle of the staple. By doing this, the "legs" of the staples will separate outward, disengaging from the skin. After making sure the legs of the staple are free of the skin, lift upward to remove the staple. Properly clean the wound and apply protective dressings or bandages, if necessary. Be sure to properly dispose of the staples to avoid any potential for puncture injuries.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always use protective gloves. Occasionally, a staple will "stick" in the skin and not fully disengage. A simple side-to-side "toggle" motion will loosen it. Be sure to clean any blood droplets that form over the small holes left by the staples.
  • Never remove staples before their time. Never use a staple remover or remove staples with your bare hands.

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