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What Are the Differences between Tweezers and Forceps?

By Jennifer Leigh
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Tweezers and forceps are types of tools used in the extraction of objects from the body, both in medical and non-medical settings. There are certain differences in the two instruments including their size, tips, and handles. In general, tweezers are smaller than forceps, but there are forceps that come in relatively small sizes as well. In addition, forceps sometimes have pointed teeth at their tips that can be used in certain medical procedures, such as grasping and holding onto delicate body tissue.

Tweezers look like pincers, and are pinched together manually to extract an object from the body. Forceps often have larger handles that can be used to remove larger objects from the body. These are held with both hands, while tweezers are held with one hand.

The tips are another area of tweezers and forceps that differ, though both can have sharp or dull tips. Tweezers do not generally have teeth, or small, ridged sections used to grasp materials, while forceps have them for some uses. Forceps range from smaller, pointy tips to curved tips that are not meant to injure tissue. The tips of tweezers range from extremely pointy to dull, but in general, tweezers are considered sharper than forceps. The tips of tweezers can be curved, pointy, square, or angled depending on their use.

Another main difference between tweezers and forceps is that forceps often have a clamp that can be placed on an object to ensure its removal from the body. The clamp tightens the forceps with greater force than could be achieved manually. Tweezers do not have a clamp, but can be made out of a magnetic substance that helps to remove items from the body with minimal effort. Instead of a clamp, tweezers are held together with pressure from the fingers.

Forceps are used in medical settings, as are tweezers, but tweezers are often kept in the home or other settings as well. For example, tweezers can be used at home for simple first aid such as removing splinters. Other settings that use tweezers include cosmetology, where hairs are removed, or in handling small objects such as jewelry and metal. This is a big difference between tweezers and forceps because forceps are rarely seen outside of a medical practice.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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