Suture Kits – Which One Is For You?

When many of us first started medical school, skills were exciting and new, and we were eager to practise them. I was no exception and I remember going to a conference meant for first year medical students, where I snuck into a suturing workshop. I was that determined to learn how to suture, knowing that I would be aiming for Obstetrics and Gynaecology and would require a good handle on the skill.

I was addicted from the start. I went home that day and hopped online and ordered a suture kit so I could practise at home. With no one in my circles who practised medicine, its not like I could borrow tools from friends or family and practise on bananas, so I went ahead and got my first set of tools and a practise suture pad. In fact when my dog tore his favourite toy, I actually did some “stuffed animal surgery” and practised on it! You can see my dog in the photo below was quite worried, and apparently didn’t trust my skills yet. In the years since, I’ve had a lot more practise, and have developed a much broader range of skills. From different mattress stitches, to practising perineal repairs (photo below), I’ve expanded my horizon.

I’ve also stumbled across a few suture kits in this time. With more experience and a variety of suture kits behind me, I feel like its time I share a bit more about which suture kits I’ve tried and why you might prefer one over the other. Read on and find out what might suit you best!

 

For the First Time Suturer

When you first start suturing, it is a whole learning curve that takes time and patience. Whereas I’m currently practising new grasping techniques and hand tying, I didn’t get here without a lot of practise. The first couple stitches I threw were hardly beautiful. In fact they were awkward, slow, and felt unnatural. The skills quickly came to me (thank you Girl Guides for the knot tying experience!) but I had to do so. much. repetition.

If you’re on a similar page and just learning, I would recommend getting your hands on a SimVivo kit. These kits are brilliant! I was sent one a few months ago, and was thoroughly impressed by the entire kit. (Contents pictured below).

As you’ll see from the pictures, your kit comes with a training guide, a suture pad with templates on it, a few sets of sutures, and three tools: suture scissors, a needle holder, and toothed forceps, as well as a #10 blade. According to the SimVivo website, “The Sim*Suture Module will help the learner practice skills of simple interrupted and running suture, instrument tying, vertical mattress sutures, and running subcuticular sutures.” The website also has a bunch of videos to teach you the sutures that are in the training manual.

The tools are pretty hefty and have a nice solid feel to them. They’re branded with the SimVivo logo on them, but seem to work well for their purpose. I used to hate toothed forceps but I’ve gotten a lot better at using them, so this is a good way to get that comfort level. The sutures come with 10 in a back in a variety of sizes which is good because you might be using sutures for a variety of reasons. I also really like the training module and videos because you can really teach yourself – this would make it the perfect gift for even a premed or someone who just got into medical school/pa school/nursing!

Like I mentioned above, I would recommend this kit to a beginner because it goes right from the start to teach you some very basic skills. That being said, it is pretty limited beyond that. For anyone who is looking to get a realistic feel, the suture pad doesn’t stretch or gape the same way you might get in real tissue, nor does it have many layers. I’ve definitely seen better suture pads for mimicking this (keep reading below). Furthermore, the lines on the template pad are very simple. All that being said, I think the idea is that its meant to be simple. To that effect, SimVivo is a perfect kit for a first year learner or someone just looking to practise their basic foundational skills a little more

 

For the Experienced Suturer

Fast forward three years, to clerkship. This is a huge part of medical school, and many people say it is the most formative year. I would say it has the biggest learning curve. You go from merely reading and listening to didactic lectures, to being hands on, seeing patients, and practising under doctors who teach you live and in person. There is a lot of nerves that comes with this, but I personally found it very exciting. In fact I had the most ideal first day at the start of my clerkship year – I got to deliver a baby, and excise a lesion all within the first morning. As someone going for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it was perfect! I got to see a delivery then practise some valuable suturing skills. Even better was the fact that my preceptor was really impressed with my excision and suturing skills, and wrote a review on my first day about how my suturing was above my expected skill level… thank you to all my suturing practise!

It was also really nice to have the affirmation that I’ve learned a lot and have a lot of great skills that I’m working on. The key word here is “working on”, because the learning process never ends. While I may have been capable of doing suturing for a simple excision, I might not be ready to do all the different sutures a surgeon would expect, and that’s where this next kit comes in.

If you’re looking for a kit that will challenge you, that is realistic, and that has all the components you could ever need, look no further than the Simulab BOSS Platform. Simulab offers a huge range of products for learners and simulations. The BOSS platform, which stands for Basic Open Surgical Skills, is probably what I would most recommend off their website for anyone learning to suture and wanting the full experience.

As you can see from the stock photo above and left, it comes with a lot of materials, which I have more specific photos of below from my own personal kit. What I love about this the most is how realistic some of it felt. The simulation tissues were slippery, they had layers to them, and most importantly, the board was designed to provide tension and shape like you might find in a real situation. There are clips on the bottom half of the board to clip samples into place, or you can put one of the three pads that it comes with into the curved tension piece on the top right.

The variety of practise simulation tissue you get is also pretty amazing. There is subcuticular tissue, complex tissue, injectable tissue, large intestine tissue, and a multi tissue structure with lots of shapes (all simulation of course).

If I haven’t stressed it enough, the diversity in this kit is fantastic. You can practise hand tying, tying under tension, there are a variety of ways you can clip things, you can add a cup to practise tying in depth… you can see from my photos that I just was loving this kit and did as much as I could with it.

Like the SimVivo kit, it comes with a worksheet type page. This one is laminated which I think makes it a bit more sustainable long term. I would say this is more for the experienced sutures however because the challenges require some pretty solid knowledge of the skills. For example, there are time limits and “penalties” that make you restart if you mess up a set of skills you’re practising on. I actually really liked this because it was realistic to me, you can’t break sutures over and over, or drop them, or take your sweet time (at least not always!).

IMG_0196.JPG

Overall, this is my favourite kit out of the mix because it comes with so much, it challenges me in all the right ways, and you really get your bang for your buck. Speaking of which, it is a fairly expensive kit, but I have gotten hours of practise out of it and would recommend it anyways – the value is there, and you can’t put a price on practising skills! Oh how I wish I could afford the perineal training tool, but knowing how much I’ve loved the BOSS kit, I would absolutely consider it.

 

For the Discerning Suturer or to Restock

The last set I’m going to recommend isn’t really a set but rather a great website to stock up on tools and supplies. Wether you’re a first time sutures looking for the basics, a discerning sutures with a preference for tools that you want to pick yourself, or you just need a few extra sutures to practise with, Faux Medical is the place for you.

I actually got myself a full set of supplies from here pretty early on in medical school. It’s a nice small set that is easy to tote around, and because you can order supplies individually, I was able to get flat nosed forceps (before I graduated to toothed forceps), which allowed me to get a feel for the tools and really decide what I liked. They’re also a really nice quality. The price range of these supplies are really reasonable, so its a good starting point for anyone not really sure where they fit in this post based on skill.

 

 

Final Thoughts

I hope this post has provided some guidance on suture kits for anyone out there looking for them. For a quick recap, here’s my final thoughts:

  • SimVivo:
    • Pro: Perfect for the beginner. Simple and easy to learn.
    • Con: Not very realistic, limited
  • Simulab:
    • Pro: Their BOSS kit is fantastic for the aspiring surgeon, and really high quality
    • Con: The price is pretty steep
  • FauxMedical:
    • Pro: Good quality at a reasonable price
    • Con: You have to know what you’re shopping for

Happy suturing!

 

Kat Von D Saint and Sinner Perfume Review

My name is Charlotte, and I’m a perfume snob. It’s a problem. I really like the idea of having a signature scent, so I’ve dedicated myself to two, max three, scents that I rotate depending on mood and location.

That being said, my deep love for candles and my selectivity for perfumes means I generally can tell right off the bat exactly what I think of a perfume or scent. I figured this would make reviewing the Kat Von D Saint and Sinner perfumes quite easy. I received these perfumes as part of an Influenster campaign, meaning they were complimentary to me.

Unboxing

As per my previous reviews, there is a certain formula to the Influenster boxes. They generally come with a nifty little hand out that explains the product and has some information about the Influenster campaign. This box however killed it in terms of packaging.

The two small perfumes came in a lovely themed box that really played up the dichotomy of “Saint” and “Sinner”. They had their own packaging with the beautiful detail that reminds me of the full sized product which Kat Von D herself designed. Each package was laid gently in a nest of white and black tissue paper – simple and stylish, but a great touch to the whole thing.

The Product

The perfumes came in a sample size, but still relatively hefty. I feel like this allowed me to get an idea of the scent, get used to wearing it, and maybe have a feel for the real bottle. Unfortunately I can’t really comment on the design because the true to size bottle is much more ornate and of course larger, so these were simpler versions. I received one of each the white “Saint” and the black “Sinner”.

 

Now onto the actual scent. Remember, perfume snob here. I was pleasantly surprised by the fragrances to be totally honest. Mostly I just liked that there really is a play between the two products. Where the white “Saint” is a little sweeter and has more lightness to it, the black “Sinner” is muskier and heavier to really had some complexity. And yet, they complement each other. I could really see myself having fun mixing and matching the scents, and even layering them strategically.

The Verdict

I have a few final thoughts about this product before I wrap up this (relatively) short review.

As much as I liked the clever packaging and colours, I have a real pet peeve with one part of it. On the little handout that it came with, there was the question “Which will you choose” and the options: “Dreamy, Romantic, Alluring” (Saint) or “Dark, Sultry, Empowering” (Sinner). I really did not like the word choice here. The implication is that we as women should be choosing a “side”. The feminine, soft, innocent look, or the dark but empowering look? Really Kat Von D? A girl can’t be both? More importantly, empowering was only applied to one of these pieces. I hate that empowering a woman has to be associated with only a part of someone’s identity, or even worse, that only a certain personality type can be empowered. NO! Empowering a woman is about enabling her to make her own choices, to live the life she chooses in the way that she is most fulfilled. Wether its white, black, saint, sinner…an empowered woman is not something that we should force someone to chose between. Very poor wording, Kat Von D.

IMG_7907.JPG

As for the fragrance, I’m really happy I was introduced to these two together. I love the idea of playing between two scents based on the mood I’m in. Honestly if I had picked up either one alone I probably wouldn’t have made much of a fuss over them, but together they’re pretty dynamic. Not quite enough to replace my current scent choices but still a good option if you’re looking to start building a fragrance repertoire.

IMG_7933.JPG

Revlon Mega Multiplier Mascara Review

A mascara that defines, lengthens, doesn’t clump and doesn’t flake. Theres just one problem, and I go over all that and more.

Once more Influenster has sent me some sponsored products to try out, something I can never say no to. What I do promise? Honest reviews. So here we go, a review of the Revlon Canada Mega Multiplier mascara from unboxing, through travel, and home again.

Unboxing

Like most Influenster products, the mascara came in the signature black Influenster box – I was just excited to see  that it was a Revlon product. Revlon is one of those brands I’ve always been around, my Mum always used their lipstick, so I’m familiar and trust this brand.

IMG_6273As I opened it, there was a bit of tissue paper protecting the best goodies of all inside: mascara! Now let me get one thing straight: I love/hate mascara. I love it like anyone does, it makes your eyelashes that much fuller and darker. But I’m the kind of person who is loyal to winning products, and yet not to mascara. I try new mascaras almost every other day. I’ve yet to find my dream mascara, and instead find bits and pieces I like about each one that I try. So when the opportunity comes up for a new mascara, I’ll be the first one to jump on board and give it a try.

The Revlon Mega Multiplier mascara came with a nice info card. Not going to lie, if my lashes ended up looking like Gwen’s lashes, I would be happy. Do I believe those lashes are real and achievable by this mascara? It probably helps her falsies look good… but that remains to be seen I suppose.

IMG_6264

The Product

Now for my very first impression of the mascara – I mean straight out of the packaging and into my hands kind of impression. To be honest, it is a wide and flat tube that immediately made me think of an old school highlighter. Do I hate it? No, but I feel like this tube belongs in a pencil case.

On a closer look, the shape of blue is pretty (I have a thing for blue according to my Clarins Hydra-Essential Review), but more than anything I really liked the black matte portion. It is subtle and sleek and gives it a modern feel. Overall packaging was average but this stepped it up a tiny bit.

The wand starts wider on the handle end and narrows towards the tip, with a round even distribution of brushes. When I first put on the mascara this meant that I really noticed it separating my lashes, which is always a plus. The brush also carried enough product that I wasn’t constantly dipping into the tube, which is definitely a plus.

The Results

Well, this mascara has been through the ringer, the gauntlet, the full kahuna. I decide to take it along on my road trip through upstate NY, and wore it pretty religiously every day. You can see from my failed attempt at pictures that I was really excited to try the mascara: see fail #1 (tube upside down) and fail #2 (squinting so you can’t see the lashes).

 

Safe to say that I gave up on the cute graffiti wall behind me (thanks Saratoga!) and went for a plain white background, which showed off the length of my lashes at a nice angle. You can really see how the Revlon Mega Multiplier lengthens the lashes and really defines them.  I was also impressed with the staying power – these pictures were on a day around 30 degrees (Celsius, I’m Canadian) and humid. It didn’t smudge or flake which I was actually excited by.

IMG_7103

On the other hand, as much as the mascara defined my lashes it didn’t thicken them much. Even with a few coats I found that my lashes weren’t the usual dark thickness that I like. It isn’t the biggest problem but like I said earlier, I’m on the hunt for a perfect mascara.

The Verdict

Overall I was happy with this mascara for what it is: a sponsored product that I was really excited to try out. I’ll keep it in my arsenal and probably keep using it everyday because its a pretty good mascara! That being said, without the thickness factor it won’t be a repurchase for me.

Did you get the Revlon Mega Multiplier Mascara Influenster box? Comment below with your thoughts!