A surgical stapler including a “breakaway” washer that is inserted into an anvil. The washer can include a circular inner portion and a circular outer portion. The outer portion may include a number of staple guide sections that define openings through which staple ends of surgical staples are driven when the surgical stapler is fired and are thereafter bent, or turned, by the anvil. The staple ends may then contact and be retained by the staple guide sections so that the staple ends do not re-penetrate or otherwise re-puncture stapled tissue. The washer can be dissolvable or bioabsorbable.