What Are Surgical Clippers?

Alex Newth

Surgical clippers are used before surgery to clear away a patient’s body hair, so the site is exposed and free from infection. There is a possibility that germs or diseases could reside in a patient’s hair and spread to other patients, so most surgical clippers include a disposable single-use razor. To keep the handle sterile, most clippers have a waterproof handle that can be submersed in soap and water, along with rubbing alcohol. There are several standards that recommend proper hair removal before performing surgery, and these clippers help doctors conform to these standards. Regular razors typically make small, seemingly insignificant cuts and marks in the skin; any such mark can lead to infection, so these clippers only cut above the skin.

Surgical clippers may be used before surgery to clear away a patient's body hair.
Surgical clippers may be used before surgery to clear away a patient's body hair.

A concern of most hospital staff members is the accidental spreading of disease between several patients who share the same medical device. While it is unlikely, there is a possibility that disease can reside in a patient’s body hair, which can complicate surgeries or lead to infection for another patient exposed to the hair. To keep this from occurring, most surgical clippers have single-use razors that are immediately disposed of after use.

While the razor itself is disposable, there is a possibility that hair or disease can get caught on the handle. There is no way to keep the handle permanently sterile, but surgical clippers often feature a waterproof handle. This allows hospital workers to wash the handle with soap and water or alcohol to remove any disease. Most clippers can only be submersed for a short amount of time, around 15 minutes, before they risk shorting out.

Many standards exist that highlight proper patient sanitation before surgery. Doctors who refuse to heed these standards risk losing their medical license or suffering other punishments. Surgical clippers help doctors uphold these standards and reduce the risk of infection during and after surgery.

Regular clippers typically cut or nick the skin. Normally, these small cuts are just an annoyance and do not do much harm. If surgical clippers nick the skin, then this increases the risk of infection during and after surgery, which can be inconvenient or even fatal for a patient. Surgical clippers only cut above the skin and do not touch the skin itself. While they never touch the skin, the distance between the razor and skin is very slim, so the clippers can effectively remove hair.

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