A surgical stapling instrument for forming and implanting a staple in the skin or fascia of a patient to close a wound or incision therein. The instrument comprises a handle portion and a nose portion. The nose portion houses a staple driver operable by an actuator pivotally associated with the handle portion. An anvil plate is affixed to the bottom of the nose portion. A plurality of staples are supported by the anvil plate and means are provided to advance the staples along the anvil plate toward the forward end thereof about which each staple is formed by the staple driver. The nose portion is also provided with a staple retaining surface spaced above the forward end of the anvil plate to minimize bending of the staple crown during the staple forming operation.