Tips for Reducing Plastic Surgery Infections

Though the number for plastic surgery related surgical site infections has not been quantified, the statistics for all types of surgery demonstrates that surgical site infections (SSI) are important for both plastic surgery patients and surgeons to be proactive about, including;

  • Surgical site infections occur at rates of 1 to 10 per 100 procedures

  • Surgical site infections accounts for close to 40% of all hospital acquired infections.

  • Surgical site infection patients are 60% more likely to require ICU treatment.

  • Surgical site infections can create excess costs of up to $3500.

In 1999, The American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) developed guidelines for surgeons to implement in order to reduce the risk of surgical site infections. ASHP is comprised of 35,000 members that represent pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, and the like. In 2002, the Center for Disease Control and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services joined together in conjunction with eight leading medical organizations to establish the Surgical Infection Project in order to better define terms for preventing surgical site infections. The culmination of the medical industry’s efforts to recognize risk factors for surgical site infections has resulted in new tips for reducing the risk of surgical site infections, as follows:

  • Proper diet and no malnutrition reduce the risk of surgical site infections.

  • Proper weight helps prevent surgical site infections.

  • Not smoking improves the chance of a complication from a surgical site infection.

  • Not shaving the plastic surgery site for two weeks prior to surgery decreases the risk of surgical site infections. Clipping surgical site hair by the doctor is the preferred method, when necessary.

  • Controlling glucose for surgery reduces the risk for SSI.

  • Proper PH levels in the body improve the risk of SSI.

  • Showering with chlorhexidine decreases the risk for surgical site infections.

Other Factors Play a Role in Surgical Site Infections
It has also been uncovered that there are numerous factors that may occur during surgery which can increase the risk for SSI. Medical conditions that may occur during surgery such as hyperthermia and excessive blood loss increase the risk for SSI. Endogenous flora and microbial organisms may be present on body surfaces or penetrate tissues and cells which may result in an infection through chemical, cellular and immunological changes. Instruments used in the procedure may increase the risk for a surgical site infection. Finally, the surgeon’s skill, volume of the procedure, and the location of the surgery on the body such as the abdomen play a role in surgical infections.


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