My Daughter's Cut Face And The Glue Which Didn't Help

I’m annoyed.

Last week my youngest had an accident. It was just one of those things and nothing could have stopped it. She ran across the room and face planted, hitting her cheek on the grate in our (now ornamental) fireplace. If it had been a little bit either way she would have hit her head on the wall with force, so even if we had protected the fireplace you can’t pad the walls and she could still have been injured. She got a cut on her cheek which was deep and gaped.

A toddler with a cut on her face cuddled up to her Daddy and reading a book together
At Children's A&E waiting to be seen 

After seeking advice we went to A&E to get treatment to avoid the risk of infection and minimise the scarring. Fortunately our local hospital now has a 24 hour children’s A&E so the waiting area was child focused and all the staff extra friendly. Unfortunately they were short staffed, but as it was a head injury we were a priority and triaged after a couple of hours. It was then less than an hour before they cleaned and dressed the wound and we could leave. We were asked to come back the next morning to see some one from "Max Plastics", a specialist plastics team which deal with that area of the face properly known as Oral Maxillo-Facial Surgery.

The next morning it was quiet and there was only us and one other patient in the Children’s Emergency Department. They called the doctor down from Max Plastics and he looked at Little’s cut. He suggested we had the option of steri strips or sutures. I ruled out steri strips straight away as Little had kept picking at the plaster in the 8 hours she had it on so I didn’t think the steri strips would be left alone. The doctor and I agreed that it was unlikely Little would stay still with just a local anaesthetic while someone stitched near her eye so sutures under general anaesthetic was the best option although not without its risks.

I generally feel a sense of unease when people mention general anaesthetic and the risks for a just turned 2 year old are higher than for adults. However it was really important to me that we chose the option that resulted in the least scarring. I kept thinking about how she would feel as a self conscious teenager with a scar on her face. The doctor went off to see when they could get her into surgery.

After a short phone call he came back and said there was another option; we could try gluing the cut. He had gone from saying general anaesthetic isn’t without its risks to strongly advising against it. He said an Anaesthetist would be reluctant to do it and pushed the glue option. I asked what the difference would likely be in scarring between all the different options and he said there wasn’t much difference. On that basis I agreed it wasn’t worth the risk of general anaesthetic.

Little was tired and hungry by this point as I had been keeping her nil by mouth but as she wasn’t having surgery I could give her food and drink. She didn’t want to keep still so I breastfed her while the doctor did the gluing. This kept her head really still making it easy for the doctor to work.

A toddler sleeping in her car seat with a close up on glue freshly applied to a cut on her face
On the way home after being glued back together

Afterwards it looked a mess and I thought the wound was still gaping under the glue, but I hoped it was just blood etc which had oozed out as he had squeezed the sides together.

For the last week the cut hasn’t bothered her. The bruising has come down and other than having to keep that part of her face dry life has continued as normal.

This morning, exactly 7 days after she had the glue, we noticed the scab was no longer there. We aren’t sure if she picked it off or if it was knocked off, but it makes no difference. We could finally see the cut again and I am not happy. The edges of the fresh cut pushed together well, they just didn’t stay together which was why we needed treatment. The now partially healed wound is gaping and only slightly narrower than the original cut.

I feel I was pushed into an option that either didn’t work or that the doctor (SHO) wasn’t skilled enough to do. I know it’s just cosmetic, I know it won’t impact her health, but we all know how much physical flaws can affect a person.

I have a follow up appointment next month after I insisted on one, but I don’t have any hope they will do anything. As the cut is healing it seems like our only option is to leave it until Little is older and then have elective surgery to correct it. Surgery we will have to pay for. Surgery which we wouldn’t have had to have if the treatment had held the skin together and she had been left with a thin line. 

A close up of a toddlers face with a red looking cut with a gape
One week later and the glue is now off

I am angry that the doctor appears to have done a bad job, I am angry that I was pushed into an option that he either wasn’t experienced enough in doing or that had a high risk in not making a difference. Neither of these were discussed with me. I was lead to believe I was making the best choice, but every time I look at my daughter’s face I feel guilt and anger. It wasn’t my fault she was hurt, but the size of the scar is my fault. I was alone in having to make the decision. It was my choice and I feel I was pushed to make the wrong one.

I still think the glue was a sensible option over stitches under general anaesthetic, but I don’t feel I was properly informed. If the scar size was really more or less the same regardless of treatment then I blame the doctor. My daughter has a much bigger scar than she should have, a scar which to improve she will have to have further unpleasant treatment and I don’t feel I was given the information I needed to make the decision or prepare me for the risk of the size of the scar.

I thought I was asking the right questions, I thought I was properly informed.  I don’t know whether the answers I was given were wrong or if I made the wrong choice. I am angry.

4th April 2020 Edit How The Cut of My Daughter's Face Healed


I have had a few people read this recently after experiencing something similar with their own children so I thought it would be helpful to add a follow up.

I met with a consultant a month after the accident and shared my concerns. He was very reassuring and provided a lot of the information that would have been helpful to have had at the time. He advised that due to the position of the cut and the direction of it, it is very difficult to keep the edges together as they heal and it is normal for cuts to gape. He said they could perform surgery on it at some point to try and improve the scar, but that there would still be a mark there so it wasn't something he would recommend. We could review this when she was older if necessary. He was also happy with how the scar was healing because it was flat rather than raised so he felt it would be easy to cover with make up when she was older.

I asked the consultant if we should be putting anything on the scar to reduce the appearance and he said he didn't believe anything (like Bio oil) would make a big difference given the type of scar it was.

A few people have asked me how the face wound on my daughter has healed so I have taken a photograph of how it looks 2 years later. The scar is still visible and pinker some days than others, but we don't really notice it any more. I suspect it is something that will bother her when she is older, but she never mentions it at the moment.

a close up of my daughter's face showing a scar on her cheek where she hurt herself and it was glued together badly by the doctor
The scar from the cut on my daughter's face 2 years after the accident


30 comments

  1. Oh bless you, sounds like a traumatic experience for you all. Don't feel like it's your fault, you did the right thing for her at the time, it was impossible to know the outcome to the scar - the outcomes of a bad reaction to anaesthetic could have been much worse. I'm sure it'll continue to heal and there will be options to help in the future, but it might not be as bad as you think, time will tell, but don't beat yourself up, you chose what any mother would, you wanted the best for your child xx

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  2. What an awful experience. Can you not return to a&e to see if they will sort it out? Dexter fell in the bath at 13/14 months old and we took him to Alder Hey where they decided he’d had surgery to stitch up his lip. He was under general anaesthetic for around thirty minutes while they did the procedure and super groggy afterwards. There’s still a scar where he cut his lip but I’m told if he hadn’t had he surgery he would have had a wonky lip line. I hate that these things happen, I wish we could wrap in them in a cotton ball. I’d definitely suggest putting in a compliant or returning to the hospital sooner though as the longer it’s left the more likely the scar will remain xx

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  3. Oh bless her heart. That looks so painful and I’m sorry you’ve had a really bad experience. I hope she heals soon x

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  4. The same thing happened with my daughter. I am furious. How did this heal on your little one?

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    1. Hi, I'm sorry you have experienced this too. A year on there is still a visible scar that is more obvious at some times than others. We are used to it now and hopefully when she is older it will be easily covered with make up

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  5. I am going through the same trauma. My 1.5 years old daughter fell on sharp corner of a table and got a deep cut on her cheek. We have got it sutured but the result is not as I expected. There seems to be gaping in stitches and am very worried about her getting a scar right on her face. It's been 1.5 months since she got sutured. As a mother, I just cant bear the fact that she might have a one inch scar on her face for life. I somehow feel guilty for it as I was right there when she fell. I just wish I could rewind the while episode and she couldn't have gotten hurt in the first place.

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  6. Similar story! One week ago my daughter fell outside and split her shin. Right along her jawline just to one side. We took her to the ER. Glue sounded great bc being my youngest she is a fireball & very good at loudly communicating what she isn’t happy with. We certainly made an impression. We were told if it bleed at all to come back/be concerned. A week later there is some blood but I’m unsure if it’s the glue / old steri-strip sticker that’s not flapping on there but seemingly stuck in the wound? Not sure. Anyway, going to see the doctor this afternoon to hopefully get some advice. Tough month for us & it was the week of her bday (3) to boot! Thanks for sharing ur story. Ur daughter is adorable all the same & tho it’s not on my face I have plenty of scars which are all a story in themselves & I wouldn’t erase any of them for the world. Wish us luck (jumping on the bed at the moment. How do u keep a 3yr old down?!! Haha). Aloha:)

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  7. Similar story! One week ago my daughter fell outside and split her shin. Right along her jawline just to one side. We took her to the ER. Glue sounded great bc being my youngest she is a fireball & very good at loudly communicating what she isn’t happy with. We certainly made an impression. We were told if it bleed at all to come back/be concerned. A week later there is some blood but I’m unsure if it’s the glue / old steri-strip sticker that’s not flapping on there but seemingly stuck in the wound? Not sure. Anyway, going to see the doctor this afternoon to hopefully get some advice. Tough month for us & it was the week of her bday (3) to boot! Thanks for sharing ur story. Ur daughter is adorable all the same & tho it’s not on my face I have plenty of scars which are all a story in themselves & I wouldn’t erase any of them for the world. Wish us luck (jumping on the bed at the moment. How do u keep a 3yr old down?!! Haha). Aloha:)

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    1. Oh no, sorry to hear that. I hope the doctor is helpful. You can't wrap them in bubble wrap can you and better to have happy memories of having fun (jumping on the bed) even with the risks.

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  8. My story and the reason I read you is also of neglect. She was 18 months and it happened in the creche they phoned me and told me to simply go to a pharmacy to get a paper stitch i did what I was told by the creche I had no idea what to do myself. The pharmacy told me to go to the gp. I went to the gp and the gp did nothing. He didnt even clean the wound he just sent me home and said it will heal by itself. I was about to send her for a second opinion but I trusted. That was my biggest mistake. That I regret everyday I look at her. The wound was never closed so it healed as a thicker scar. Very similar to your daughters. By the way after 2 years your daughter's looks Ok it actually made me think oh i wish my daughters looks like that in one year time. Not very noticeable. Ours is near the eye. I felt so upset for so long. And i know how it feels bc we look at their faces every day. Now I have my hopes on laser for the future. Think that could be an option as it looks ok now, with laser I would say it could become nearly invisible. Now... im not a doctor. After the lockdown I want to see one in Spain. He works in a children hospital but has also his own clinic and uses laser. I dont say we will do it as she is still little but I want a piece of mind that he tells me look we can make improvements if she wants to.

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  9. Thanks for this write up and it does give a lot of information to parents like us.

    Our kid was hurt in the daycare by careless care givers. His scar is near the eye and is getting worse everyday. I was thinking after 6 months it gets better, but for us it looks to be getting worse.

    If you don’t mind then I have a few questions for you.
    1. In your experience did the scar get bigger as your daughters face grew bigger. Basically I am thinking whether it will shrink with time or get bigger as the face size increases.
    2. What do you think was the normal transition for the color of your daughters scar. Did it get light first and then kept darkening ? I am thinking in terms of 3 months intervals. Like was it lighter 3 months after injury and then kept getting darker ? Or was it the other way around ?

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  10. Hi, I'm sorry your son got hurt too. I haven't measured the scar at any point so I can't say for sure, but I think it's got smaller compared to her face. So it might have got slightly bigger, but it looks smaller now.
    The scar got a lot redder over the first few months and year and then has got paler. Colour wise now it's pretty much the same colour as her skin most of the time, but it goes redder when she is annoyed or running around etc. I would guess that this might vary depending on skin tone. Her skin is pretty pale and we try to ensure we use good sunblock on the area.
    I think the biggest change has been how we feel about it, we very rarely notice it any more and it was really hard when I wanted to update this post to find a photograph you could see it in so I had to take one specifically in good lighting.
    I hope his scar heals well.

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  11. Hi, firstly thanks for this post which is a hope to most of us that things can get better with time. My kid also got an injury , and like some others here, it was inflicted by the daycare provider. They were so inhuman we that they attempted to cover my kids injury by applying skin glue and hence we never knew how deep the injury was. It was only after the skin glue started falling off that we realized how bad the injury was.

    My kids scar was not very bad at 6 months after the injury, however, it started turning worse with time. I am very worried about how bad is it going to get.

    So my question to you is whether your kids scar always kept improving with time? What happened after one year, did it improve any further, or did it stay like it was at one year after injury ?

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    1. Hi, I'm sorry your child's scar has got worse. I find it hard to remember, but I think my daughter's gradually improved. Looking at photographs it isn't very visible and I think at a year it was pretty similar to in the last image above except a bit redder.
      I know some scars can end up raised and more obvious, but hers is pretty flat to the skin. The consultant we saw provided us with a lot of reassurance so I would suggest seeing an expert to see if there is anything that can be done.

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  12. Hi, thank you so much for your post! I found it after reading pages on wound treated with skin glue and have some hope now that my kid's scar won't be so bad.
    My daughter's wound is on her forehead and now at 7 days since the injury, look a lot like how your daughter's did, red and gaping. I was also so angry that I was told the skin glue is the best choice when I voiced my concern for scarring since it's her face. Anyway, I'm planning on speaking to a specialist come Monday but was wondering if you put anything on it once the skin glue came off?? I'll be putting bandaid on it to keep away from sun but did you put anything else like neosporin or silicone gel? Thank you!!

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    1. Hi, thank you for your comment and I'm sorry your daughter got hurt too. Some people suggested massaging Bio-Oil into the scar so I tried that a couple of times, but when I saw the specialist he said he didn't think it would make a difference to the type of scar my daughter had. He said that massaging with oil etc could make a difference if the scar is raised, but not when it was flatter like my daughters. He said it wouldn't do any harm either though if I wanted to do it.

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    2. Hi there, how is your daughter’s forehead now. I am going through the same thing now (happened about 4 hours ago). She got the wound on her forehead glued. I am just searching for positive stories to feel better. My heart bleeds.

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    3. Hi, I'm sorry your daughter has got hurt too. I don't know if your question was too Shelly or me, but my daughter's scar still looks like in that last photograph really. We don't notice it all though and no one else does unless they are looking for it.
      It really does get easier in time.

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  13. A similar thing happened to my daughter, aged 7 years. She fell and cut her chin, it was an inch across and very deep and gaping. Took her to A&E and the nurse applied skin glue, held it together for a minute then put a massive square plaster covering her chin. I left this on for 2-3 days then removed it which was really tough as it was so sticky and I didn’t want to pull her skin around her chin, neck and make her cut worse. When I removed it, I found out that the glue had never stick the wound together and had actually made it worse as it had dried hard on the 2 sides of the cut and a bit internally. I was so angry and felt so cross with myself and the nurse in A&E as later reading about it, glue should never be applied to areas of tension as it won’t work as the skins is being moved all the time. She should have had stitches. So... lots of quick research told me I needed to keep this wound moist in order to heal. I removed all the glue with warm water and tried to make the wound as wet as possible by applying high quality Manila honey to the cut. I would have tried steristrips if the area had not been so swollen but I could not bring the edges of the wound together. I then applied a plaster with honey on the pad on top of the wound. I kept changing this and applying honey every day until the wound came together. Then when the wound had healed you need to keep it moist so silicone gel sheets over the scar at night and I used the gel during the day. Also deep massage over the scar 5 minutes a day as tolerated to break down any adhesions/scarring internally. My daughters scar has improved dramatically, this is one year on. It is maybe 2mm at its widest point now but considering it was sealed with glue keeping the parts separate at over 6mm wide I don’t think it was too bad. In hindsight, I should have pushed for stitches, or steristrips over the top of the glue whist at A&E and no plaster so you can see what’s happening with the wound, but you trust the professionals know best. I hope this helps someone else going through this. I felt so guilty and angry with myself at the time, but as parents are all just trying our best.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience and what worked for you. There are a lot of people who find this page after similar experiences and it is good to hear what other people did.

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  14. While it's unfortunate that your daughter fell and injured her cheek - I feel you are being unfairly critical towards the doctor that treated your child initially. I feel this is down to a complete lack of understanding of our health service. You speak extremely negatively of him, when it is clear he was instructed to you by his senior (Registrar or consultant) re giving you the option of gluing. If you were unhappy with the explanation you could simply have asked to speak to a senior doctor, instead of waiting until you were dissatisfied with the healing of your daughter's wound (which I hate to break it to you, wounds scar, regardless of whether they're glued, stitched or left to heal by secondary intention).
    I feel sorry for children raised with parents that are so focussed on blaming everyone else around them and instilling in them aesthetic based values at such a young age. I have a scar, I fell as a child, my wound healed and I am just the same person with that 0.5cm scar as I would have been if my parents decided to shame a (likely overworked and undersupported) junior doctor for something that was almost definitely not their decision.

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    1. Hi, Thank you for your comment. I have an excellent understanding of how English hospitals work for many reasons including having been a manager in a leading one for many years. I agree it would have been a senior that advised him to change the recommendation, or possibly an anaesthetist who obviously has more experience of anaesthetics and could have put forward a different perspective which changed the SHO's mind.
      If you read what I wrote carefully I didn't realise that the cut hadn't held together until the glue came off and my main issue is that I didn't feel I had been adequately informed. I had thought I had been, but actually the information I needed to hear I was only told when I spoke to the consultant later. I trusted what the SHO said so I had no reason to demand to speak to someone more senior at the time.
      I also think you have skipped over the parts of the post where I said "it is my fault" and it was "my choice". I'm pretty sure that's not me shifting the blame. I also don't feel I have shamed the doctor at all. No names have been mentioned in this post and I didn't put in a complaint to the hospital because I waited to speak to the Consultant first and he was able to alleviate my concerns.
      I also haven't put any of my concerns onto my daughter, she barely knows the mark is there and I never discussed my concerns with her or in front of her. I think as adults we definitely try to love our scars, but we don't always feel that way when we are growing up; a teen's day can feel ruined by a spot so how might they feel about a scar? I don't think myself or any of the hundreds of other parents who visit this post are bad or superficial people for wanting to minimise the size of a scar if possible.
      I feel what you are implying about me in the second paragraph is unfair, however I, and I am sure other parents who read this will feel reassured that your scar doesn't bother you.

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  15. I had a similar experience, but opposite. My 2 year old fell and cut her eye right below her eyebrow. I was given the choice between glue and sutures and I chose sutures. It was traumatic for her having to be held down and I truly regret the choice I made for her. While the scar from the glue might have been wider she now has terrible angry red suture marks. It was done by plastics and I have taken her to two more plastic surgeons who have assured me it's healing beautifully. I feel mental and wish I chose the glue.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I guess that the cuts will leave marks whatever treatment they have, although from our experience the red marks will fade to be less obvious that you are currently experiencing.
      The only reason I didn't have to hold my daughter still was because I could breastfeed her (which after being nil by mouth all morning was a good distraction). Normally though I imagine they would need to be held still for gluing just like for sutures so try not to feel it was the wrong choice. We all make decisions on the information we have and I don't think either way is wrong.

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  16. Hi everybody. My daughter had a similar story in November 2020.She was 16 months old and we ended up with one stich one forehead and a scar. She fell on the table's corner. Although I'm not writing this to comfort you as every case is different but I can tell you our experience, because after 6 months, the scar is quite invisible. We used mederma the first months and avene cicalfate. Later and till today I apply sword oil or castor oil every night and sunprotection always before going out.The redness has gone and the only problem left is the depth of the cut but still castor oil seems to make it better. So I am quite optimistic. Don't blame yourself and remember that age makes scars smaller. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for sharing, I'm sure people will find reading about your experience helpful.

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  17. So glad I found this page, my daughter had a head injury last week which was my fault so feel awful about scarring her for life. She had glue and steri strips but pulled them off after the first night. After day 3 she also picked the scab off and its impossible to stop her as she does it at night. Thank you for sharing pictures as it has reassured me that over time it will heal and hopeful it won't look as bad as I think it will. Any tips to stop her picking at the wound whilst it heals?

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    1. I'm so sorry your daughter got hurt too. I suspect it was an accident, but it's only natural as parents we blame ourselves when our children get hurt.

      It's so hard to get them to leave it alone isn't it? I just wrote some suggestions and deleted them as I'm not sure they will make a difference. I'm guessing it itches or hurts which stops her forgetting about it. Maybe look for tips online for stopping children scratch chicken pox? I think people suggest gloves and things, but hopefully she will forget soon.

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  18. hi! I was just curious if you did anything like use scar minimizing cream? My daughter had a very similar incident. She got 5 stitches -- no general anesthesia. So traumatic. Two days later, the wound was healing well. But later that day she fell and the wound reopened when 2 stitches popped out. We took her to the ER, where they did NOTHING -- and I'm so mad about it. They did not even offer steri strips. Drs don't like to resuture an old wound, but this NP didn't even consult with a plastic surgeon. We learned that they could have resutured the wound when it was open & clean, right away. That's exactly why I took her to the ER. We may be looking at plastic surgery for my daughter, a year from now, and yes, out of pocket. I'm so mad she was reinjured and will now have a scar. This kind of stuff is so hard!! I agree- it's not my fault that she was injured but I feel responsible that she'll have a scar. Had her stitches held, there would be super minimal scaring. Ugh, just feel for you. thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I think it's all so frustrating isn't it and you just don't know what the right thing to do at the time is.
      We have never used anything on the scar, with it being close to her eye I wanted to be careful and the consultant said he didn't think anything would really make a difference in her case. I think when it is more of a raised or hard scar some creams and massage can have more of an impact though.

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