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Plastic Surgery and Staph: Four Reasons for Concern

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Staph infection and its evil sibling MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, are of deep concern in the medical world. The bacteria’s ubiquitous nature, uncanny hardiness, ability to evolve and potential for causing very serious health issues—including death—are reasons you should know about staph and MRSA if you’re considering plastic surgery.

The first thing to understand about Staphylococcus aureus is that the bacterium is everywhere. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s very common on the skin and inside the nose of healthy people and most often poses no problem as long as immune systems are up to par. But bacteria can invade the body through cuts and abrasions, and when you’re vulnerable due to illness or a medical procedure, your system may not be able to fight off staph.

Plastic surgery can increase the risk of staph infection due to the one-two punch of surgical wounds and the fact that your immune system will work extra hard to help you recover. Staphylococcus aureus can travel to internal organs through the breathing tube, IV tube and catheter your plastic surgeon may use during your procedure.

The second worrisome thing about staph is its incredible resiliency. It can survive many of the common weapons used to eradicate bacteria, including high temperature, dryness and salt. It can survive a long time on towels, sheets and pillowcases, even through washing cycles. The Mayo Clinic says, “Despite vigorous attempts to eradicate them, staph bacteria remain widespread in hospitals,” attacking vulnerable patients.

The third attribute of staph is one that confounds the medical community: its ability to evolve to resist antibiotics. Once treated with penicillin, staph infections now require different antibiotics. MRSA, shorthand for strains of bacteria that became resistant to methicillin and other antibiotics, may respond to drugs such as erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, but there are reports that MRSA is becoming resistant to some of these choices as well. For those with MRSA, treatment is often an uncertain trial-and-error proposition that can require hospitalization and drugs administered intravenously.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Thanks for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your RA and the risk it poses for staph. It sounds very frustrating, along with being an additional medical challenge for you.

I would guess your current strategy is to stay away from hospitals!

Best of luck to you.


June 25, 2010 - 6:03pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Cathy Enns)

Thank you for your concern. You're right about avoiding hospitals & doctor offices...sometimes what I catch is worse than what I have.

I work part-time @t a music ctr & I'm out of work every summer since school is out. That's when I feel the best. Being around children, who come in sick, is bad news for me.

I'm looking for another part-time job but with my limitations it's hard to find one. I've been @ my present job for 3-1/2 yrs but they are increasing my hours & wanting me to work 6 days a week. Number 1, I'm not able to do that...It would be too tiring; Number 2, Being on disability I'm limited to a certain amount of money I can make each month. I think leaving is the best thing for me to do. My mgr keeps the thermostat at 60-65 degrees in the winter & took away my space heater. With RA it makes my bones hurt & I'm miserablely in pain. If anyone out there has any suggestions for my job search I would greatly appreciate any advice.

Leaving my husband on Sunday, June 27, for many reasons, mostly abuse. We've been married for 17 years & this is so painbful for both of us. Also, I fell @ the mall & broke my right foot (the bad one w/screws) in 2 places & have a huge hematoma on my right hip. I'm OK.

I am a strong person (a survivor) & my faith in God is strong, so I know I will make it through this. :)

June 25, 2010 - 9:41pm

This has proven to be true for me several times. I have RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) which is an auto immune disease where my immune system attacks itself. I have gotten staph infections following surgery. I got a staph infection when I had surgery on my sinuses and it took two years for me to beat it!

My doctors are aware of my medical history and always pre-medicate me for one week prior to and after surgery. However, I still get staph infections. My risk of infection is the most serious part of being hospitalized.

June 8, 2010 - 11:28pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.