Method and apparatus for closing an incision in the body of a patient including forming a suture by passing a loop of wire through opposite sides of the incision and inserting the end portions of the wire into and through bores formed in a splice plate comprising a substantially rectangular member having a pair of parallel bores formed longitudinally therethrough. The end portions of the wire are then inserted into an instrument for applying a controlled tension to said wire comprising a pair of parallely spaced legs having mechanisms for fixedly holding each respective wire end portion therein. A rack and pinion arrangement is activated to increase the distance between the legs thereby tensioning the wire at a controlled rate. When sufficient closure of the incision is attained, the splice plate is crimped thereby splicing the wires therein. The end portions of the wire extending beyond the splice plate are cut flush with an edge surface of the splice plate thereby forming a safe suture. An alternate embodiment includes having the length of suture wire prethreaded on the splice plate prior to the operation.