What Is a Skin Hook?

Misty Wiser

A skin hook is a small medical instrument that is used to grasp, hold, and position delicate soft tissues during the suturing phase of a surgical procedure. It may have one or two very thin curved hooks at the end of the tool and is often used with a needle holder during suturing to reduce the damage to the fragile tissue being stitched closed. Skin hooks are used in many different medical procedures that require the gentle maneuvering of skin and soft tissue, including corrective surgical procedures on the eyes, suturing facial skin, and stitching the delicate individual layers of the skin.

Tweezers are a type of skin hook.
Tweezers are a type of skin hook.

The prongs of the skin hook instrument can be customized according to the procedure performed. Some types of this surgical equipment have hooks that are very sharp and thin. Other skin hooks feature prongs that are thick and have a dull tip. The skin hooks may have a single prong or double prongs. Prongs are often classified as extra fine, standard, or delicate; the classification enables the surgical preparation team to select the most appropriate instrument for the procedure.

A skin hook is a small medical instrument that is used to grasp, hold, and position delicate soft tissues during the suturing phase of a surgical procedure.
A skin hook is a small medical instrument that is used to grasp, hold, and position delicate soft tissues during the suturing phase of a surgical procedure.

One type of skin hook is a small surgical instrument called a thumb forceps, more commonly known as tweezers. At the grasping portion of the tweezers, small hooks are added in place of teeth-like projections that are often present on the end of the instrument. The thin hooks are able to move very delicate thin tissue without leaving marks or causing damage by compressing the tissue. Preventing damage from the suturing process may speed the healing time of the skin and other soft tissues.

Surgical instruments can be sterilized by using an autoclave.
Surgical instruments can be sterilized by using an autoclave.

The handle on the thumb forceps skin hook may be long or short depending on the procedure the tool is being used in. A surgeon with large hands may prefer the longer handled tweezer-shaped skin hooks. Areas that are usually difficult to access may be successfully sutured with a long handled skin hook.

A skin hook is included in a doctor's suture kit, and makes the stitching process easier and more effective.
A skin hook is included in a doctor's suture kit, and makes the stitching process easier and more effective.

Another type of skin hook features a long thin piece of surgical stainless steel that has one or two small prongs at the end of the instrument. These skin hooks are used for procedures on thicker soft tissues, such as the abdominal organs or lungs. Most are designed for repeated use and can be sterilized using an autoclave prior to each surgery. Additionally, the surgical quality steel used in the skin hook helps to prevent bacteria from clinging to the instrument’s surface during the procedure.

Medical students may be tasked with practicing suture techniques using needle holders, forceps and skin hooks.
Medical students may be tasked with practicing suture techniques using needle holders, forceps and skin hooks.
Skin hooks may be used if a patient requires stitches.
Skin hooks may be used if a patient requires stitches.

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