What Is a Surgical Wound Infection?
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Surgical Wound Infections in Plastic Surgery

Published on May 25, 2023 and last reviewed on Jun 02, 2023   -  5 min read


One of the most common postoperative problems in people receiving cosmetic surgery is surgical site infection. Read below to know more.

What Is a Surgical Wound?

A surgical wound is an incision or cut in the skin and surrounding tissues that occurs during a surgical treatment. A surgeon makes the incision on purpose to gain access to the damaged portion of the body that requires therapy or repair. Surgical wounds are categorized according to their severity, location, and complexity. Depending on the risk of infection linked with the procedure, they might be characterized as simple, clean, or contaminated. The time it takes for surgical wounds to heal varies based on the type of wound, location, patient age, and overall health state.

Good wound care, which includes keeping the area clean and dry, changing dressings as needed, and following the surgeon's post-operative instructions, is critical to promote proper healing and avoid complications like infection.

What Is Wound Infection?

Infection of the wound is a typical complication that can arise following any form of injury or surgical operation. It happens when bacteria or other microbes enter and multiply in the wound, producing inflammation and tissue damage.

Redness, swelling, warmth, soreness, pus or drainage, fever, and a foul odor are all symptoms of wound infection. Wound infections, if left untreated, can progress to more serious problems such as cellulitis, abscesses, sepsis, and even death.

Wound infection prevention begins with adequate wound care, which includes keeping the wound clean and dry, changing dressings as needed, and avoiding touching or scratching the sore site. A healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent or treat an infection, particularly in circumstances of high risk, such as immunocompromised patients or those with severe, polluted wounds.

Is Surgical Wound Infection in Plastic Surgery Risky?

Certainly, surgical wound infection can be dangerous in plastic surgery. Infection is a problem with any medical procedure, and plastic surgery is no different. Infections can form at the wound site, leading to consequences such as delayed healing, tissue damage, and even sepsis in extreme cases.

A range of factors, including the patient's overall health, the type and length of the surgical treatment, and the cleanliness of the operating environment, can all influence the risk of surgical wound infection in plastic surgery. To limit the risk of infection, correct surgical practices, such as the use of sterile tools and aseptic surgical techniques, must be followed.

If a person is considering plastic surgery, it is critical for them to discuss the risks and advantages with their surgeon and to carefully follow their pre- and post-operative recommendations. If they have any medical conditions or are taking any medications that could raise their risk of infection, make sure to tell the surgeon.

Who Is Prone to Surgical Wound Infection in Plastic Surgery?

A surgical wound infection can occur in anyone who has had plastic surgery. Some variables, however, may enhance the probability of infection. These are some examples:

  • Immunocompromised Patients: Individuals who have a weaker immune system as a result of a chronic condition, such as diabetes, or certain drugs, such as immunosuppressants, are more likely to acquire a surgical wound infection.

  • Smokers: Smoking can reduce blood flow, reduce oxygen availability, and impede the body's ability to heal, increasing the risk of infection.

  • Fat People: Obesity increases the risk of surgical wound infections because it reduces blood flow, increases tissue tension, and makes it difficult to maintain adequate hygiene in skin folds.

  • Aged People: Aged people may have a reduced immune system, decreased blood flow, and a shorter healing period, all of which might raise the risk of infection.

  • Individuals Having a History of Previous Surgical Wound Infections: Patients who have had previous surgical wound infections may be at a higher risk of developing an infection in subsequent surgeries.

Before undergoing plastic surgery, it is critical to discuss one's medical history as well as any potential risk factors with the surgeon. Prior to surgery, taking steps to improve health, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing chronic conditions, can help reduce the risk of surgical wound infection.

What Are the Possible Reasons for Surgical Wound Infection in Plastic Surgery?

In plastic surgery, surgical wound infection can occur for a variety of reasons. These are some examples:

  • Contamination: During surgery, microorganisms from the patient's skin, surroundings, or surgical instruments can contaminate the operative site. Contamination might occur if the surgical team does not follow proper sterile techniques.

  • Poor Blood Flow: A compromised blood supply to the surgical site can result in delayed wound healing and an increased risk of infection.

  • Chronic Illness: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders, can weaken the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to infections.

  • Tobacco: Tobacco use can diminish blood flow and the body's ability to fight infections, increasing the risk of wound infection.

  • Length of Surgery: Due to the prolonged exposure of the surgical site to microorganisms and the possibility of tissue injury, longer procedures may increase the risk of infection.

  • Inadequate Wound Care: Inadequate postoperative wound care, such as poor cleansing, dressing, or monitoring for signs of infection, can increase the risk of surgical wound infection.

To reduce the risk of infection, it is critical to use adequate surgical methods and postoperative wound care. Patients should also advise their surgeon if they have any underlying medical illnesses or drugs that may enhance the risk of infection.

How to Prevent Surgical Wound Infection in Plastic Surgery?

In order to prevent surgical wound infection in plastic surgery, a number of precautions must be taken both before and after the procedure. These are some guidelines for reducing surgical wound infections in plastic surgery:

  • Preoperative Preparation: The surgeon will give the patient precise advice on how to prepare for surgery before the operation. Instructions on cleanliness, nutrition, and drugs to avoid may be included.

  • Appropriate Sterile Techniques: During the procedure, the surgical team should use proper sterile practices, such as washing their hands, donning sterile gowns and gloves, and utilizing sterilized equipment.

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis: The surgeon may prescribe an antibiotic to lower the risk of infection, depending on the type of procedure and medical history of the patient.

  • Wound Care After Surgery: Following surgery, the surgeon will give the patient precise instructions on how to care for their surgical wounds. This may include cleaning and treating the wound on a regular basis, avoiding activities that could disrupt the area, and keeping an eye out for signs of infection.

  • Follow-up Appointments: It is critical for the patients to attend all follow-up consultations with their surgeon in order to monitor the healing process and detect any signs of infection as soon as possible.


Infections from plastic surgery wounds are a possible complication that can arise following any surgical operation. While the chance of infection is low, it is critical to take precautions and recognize the signs of infection if it does occur.

If a person suspects that they may develop an infection following plastic surgery, they should call the surgeon immediately. Redness, swelling, warmth, pus, fever, and chills are all symptoms of infection. Early detection and treatment of an infection are critical to preventing infection spread and related repercussions.

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Last reviewed at:
02 Jun 2023  -  5 min read




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