Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
All lacerations will usually heal, even if left alone and no sutured. Suturing simply allows a cut to heal more quickly and with a better cosmetic result; it may also reduce the chance of post-wound infections.
All wounds leave a scar when they heal. Many factors determine how noticeable a scar will appear. Some of these factors are how the cut is situated along lines of tension, if an infection occurs, or if the sutures are not removed in the amount of time specified by your doctor. Some patients tend to form keloids (reddish, raised formation of fibrous scar tissue caused by excessive tissue repair in response to a wound or surgical incision).
Exposure to sunlight within the first 6 months can cause permanent discoloration of the wound. This can be prevented by using sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) on the area during this time.
For people who have not completed a primary series of tetanus shots, any recommendations for additional tetanus immunization should be followed. Wound contamination is still the most common source for the development of tetanus, which can cause death.
People with other medical problems (diabetes, for example) may take longer than average to heal and close wounds with sutures.
Newer suture materials are under development; some may contain antimicrobials and others may contain wound healing compounds.