Body contouring patients who have surgery during summer months are nearly 2.7 times more likely to suffer surgical site infections than those who go under the knife in winter. That makes season the strongest risk factor for surgical site infections post body contouring surgery, according to a retrospective cohort study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of 602 patients who had lower and upper body lift, abdominoplasty, breast reduction, mastopexy, brachioplasty or thigh lift.
Complications from body contouring surgery remain high, and surgical site infections represent 60% of complications from these procedures. Current studies suggest body contouring surgery patients are at higher risk of surgical site infection if they have an elevated body mass index (BMI), extensive tissue removed, drain removal delays or comorbidities, such as hypertension or diabetes.
Other medical specialties have reported seasonal impact on surgical site infection rates, but the authors write seasonal impact on surgical site injection rates had yet to be reported in body contouring surgery.
Austrian and German researchers studied 563 women and 39 men who had body contouring procedures between 2009 and 2015. Of those, 136 patients had surgery June through August, when the average temperature was about 68 degrees Fahrenheit; 466 had surgery in the winter, when the average temperature was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nearly 5.5% of patients had a surgical site infection, which the authors write is in line with current research on body contouring surgery. But more than 10% of patients suffered the infections in summer, versus about 4% in winter.
Researchers found surgical site infection rates rose highest in June and July. While temperature was a culprit for higher surgical site infection rates, humidity was not.
Notably, patients 50 and older were 2.3 times more likely to end up with surgical site infections than younger patients.
BMI wasn’t a significant risk factor for the infections. Patients who smoked, had longer surgeries or longer hospital stays were at greater risk for surgical site infections than those with high BMIs, but those associations were not significant.
The authors recommend including seasonality when planning body contouring procedures and that surgeons should consider looking at patient age in relation to patient risk for surgical site infection, since this seems to be an underestimated risk factor.
“Considering the prolonged and complicated healing process as well as the arising morbidity and costs in case of a postoperative surgical site infection, we suggest further investigations regarding underlying causes and risks to improve body contouring surgery outcomes,” according to the authors.