staple 01

A few years ago, I pulled the chain of a hall light and dislodged a poorly installed heavy glass shade directly onto my noggin. This led to my first personal foray into the delicate sciences of skin suturing, (as canvas, not artist). (It also gave me a sincere appreciation for the bare-bulbed-pull-chained lights of my youth–thanks to those, I had a habit of looking away from lights with pullchains, rather than at them. In the collision between head and falling glass, avoiding the face is always a plus.)

In this case, my injuries were just significant enough to warrant three staples. In case you’re out of touch with suturing options, the latest techs (circa 2009) are glue, sewing, and staples. My initial doctor was patient enough to spell out the circumstances that would decide the use of one over another–he was clear they were all good options in the right circumstances–but my memory of the exact details are a bit hazy. As curious as I was, part of my reason for asking was to distract myself from said staples being applied to said head and between that and adrenaline, I’m still not your go-to person when deciding what to use.

But by the time I returned for staple removal, I had my wits gathered, ready for a second round of education and distraction (an expert! being paid to talk to me!). We talked about the tool he was using, its design, its lifespan. Answer: 3M (local design for the win!), single function and use, recyclable. And after he removed the first staple and showed me the device and its basic mechanics, I stuffed aside my pride and whatever other emotions keep polite society from asking for their biohazard garbage to take home and asked if I could keep both the staples and their remover. After clearing up his confusion and slight distress at the apparently novel question (I just appreciate good design, sir! and if you’re not going to be using it again, why, I would appreciate it just as a token of my time spent asking you too many questions!), he willingly handed it over, along with two of the three staples (one had been thrown into the biohazard bin by the time I’d steeled myself (ha!) to ask).

staple 02

Today I present to you the sole remaining staple, cleaned, along with its removal tool. I’m not sure how easy it is to convey in photos how it works* , but here’s my understanding:

1. Prep skin in whatever way skin is prepped and staple it together. My only memory is that this wasn’t super-fun, but was better than it could’ve been thanks to (design feature!) sharpened ends.

2. Heal

3. Prep skin and insert two pronged side under the staple (also not a fun bit). The bottom of this is designed to lie very close to the body and distribute any force along its length. The product is shaped like your basic scissors/pliers/center-fulcrum-thing, so the single-prong side is towards the body and has a curved end on the flat grip, I assume for stability/leverage.

4. Once you have the two-prongs under the staple, push down on the top handle. This will force the center of the staple to bend downwards, causing the two ends, which have been holding skin together, to spread up and apart, like the doors of a Delorian opening. Voila! You’re left with a vaguely bat-like staple and only minor agitation to the recently wounded skin.

5. You’d take that home too, wouldn’t you?


staple 03


* A brief googling for videos led to me to conclude that it might take a bit of work to find a good video and that the search (and results) likely would involve looking at unfun wounds and that’s just not necessary for a design blog (at least not for my design blog).

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