What Is Dermabond®?

Dermabond is waterproof so may be worn when showering.
Dermabond may be used during facial surgeries.
Patients with a Dermabond adhesive should avoid tanning during the healing process.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Amanda Barnhart
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2015
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2015
    Conjecture Corporation
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Dermabond® is a liquid skin adhesive that is used to seal wounds and incisions shut. It works a lot like a glue, and is sometimes referred to as “super glue for the skin” — but it should be noted that this product is chemically dissimilar from standard super glue and should not be used interchangeably. The product is created and distributed by the American pharmaceutical company Ethicon, which is owned by health products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The adhesive is most commonly used by surgeons and trauma doctors to seal skin, usually in place of stitches; depending on the scope of a person’s injury, simply sealing the wound shut can help it heal faster than stitching it would. Early versions were available only to medical providers and required a prescription for home use. In many places it’s available over the counter, though usually in milder formats. People buy it to help speed recovery from puncture wounds and deep cuts.

Basic Concept

The idea behind Dermabond® is relatively simple. In essence, the goal is to bond the skin together with a temporary adhesive that will keep germs and water out while holding blood and tissues in. It is usually used instead of stitches or bandages; doctors and other medicals care providers apply it directly to broken skin to more or less glue the wound closed.

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The adhesive is known chemically as 2-octyl cyanoacrylate. Depending on location there are sometimes generic products or products with other brand names that have this same basic formula. It forms a watertight and antimicrobial barrier with the skin on contact, and will dissolve and fall off on its own as the skin beneath it heals.

How and When It’s Used

This adhesive is most commonly used to seal surgical incisions, particularly in surgeries where scarring is considered highly undesirable, such as C-sections and facial surgeries. The liquid adhesive can be used in place of stitches in almost any type of surgery, though it isn’t commonly used in the mouth or around the eyes. It also doesn’t tend to work as well on areas where the skin is frequently stretched or pulled, like on the elbows or knees. This is primarily to make sure the incision stays closed during the entire healing process.

Doctors typically use a small brush to paint a film of the adhesive over a wound or incision. For smaller cuts it can also sometimes be applied with a small bottle tip or nozzle. The substance forms a strong bond in less than three minutes, but remains flexible so that movement during the healing process is not hindered. Incisions usually heal within seven to 10 days, at which point the adhesive will wear off naturally.

Main Advantages

Using a liquid seal is preferable to stitches in many situations because it often makes recovery and healing faster. Dermabond® is waterproof, so patients do not have to wait to shower or bathe as they do with many types of stitches. Caring for a wound or incision sealed with a liquid adhesive is often easier than a wound that is stitched closed, too, because there is no need to change bandages and dressings.

Patients don’t usually need to go back into a medical office to have stitches removed, either. Traditional stitches and staples often have to be professionally removed, which can be uncomfortable and may lead to a separate post-removal healing period. Stitches and staples often discolor the skin, too, which can leave additional scars over the incision. The adhesive typically leaves very little, if any, trace behind.

Risks and Drawbacks

Although Dermabond® is waterproof, it is important for patients to refrain from saturating the wound. The incision should be blotted dry since vigorous wiping with a towel can remove the adhesive. Patients should stay out of the sun and refrain from tanning during the healing process. Other topical medications and ointments can also loosen the adhesive, and should not be used until the incision is completely healed. Patients should always follow their care provider’s instructions regarding wound care, and should schedule follow-up appointments as appropriate.

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Discuss this Article

anon927846
Post 4

Dermabond is fantastic! I've had surgery twice and the MD used this both times (over a large incision). It peels off when wound is healed. No itching or irritating stitches or staples.

Monika
Post 3

It's interesting that while this stuff sound pretty hi-tech, there are still some instances where traditional stitches are better. For instance, my sister had elbow surgery, and the doctor chose to close up with traditional sutures instead of Dermabond.

My sister was a bit disappointed because she had heard of "liquid stitches" before, but obviously her doctor knew best! She healed up fine, but she does have quite a scar on her elbow now.

JaneAir
Post 2

@sunnySkys - Dermabond suture is pretty amazing. A friend of mine had a c-section awhile ago, and this is what they used to close up the incision. It healed beautifully, and didn't leave too bad of a scar. Compared to another friend I know that had a c-section that was stitched up, it looks amazing!

The only negative thing my friend said was that she had trouble remembering to pat the area dry. She was so busy with her new baby she could barely think straight! Luckily she didn't accidentally dislodge any of the Dermabond.

sunnySkys
Post 1

Wow! Dermabond skin adhesive sounds pretty amazing! When I was younger I had stitches, and the whole process was pretty annoying. I remember having to avoid getting the area wet, and then I had to go back and get the stitches removed. After all that, I had a pretty bad scar!

It sounds like Dermabond pretty much gets rid of these problems. You don't have to worry about getting it wet, or even going back to the doctor to get it removed.

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