March 17, 2008 -- The odds of getting MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) after a face-lift are low, but not nil, new research shows.
MRSA can spread in communities and in hospitals. Surgery, including cosmetic surgery, carries a risk of infection, including MRSA infection.
A new study tracked MRSA in 780 people who got face-lifts at a New York outpatient surgical center between 2001 and 2007.
During that time, four patients -- 0.5% of all the patients studied -- developed surgical site infections that tested positive for MRSA. Those cases happened in 2006, shortly after the patients got their face-lifts.
All four patients recovered after antibiotic treatment, though two patients had to be treated in a hospital.
It's not clear if those four patients picked up MRSA when they got their face-lifts. At least two patients -- the ones who were hospitalized for MRSA care -- may have been exposed to MRSA through other circumstances.
One face-lift patient had been spending time visiting her husband in the hospital; he was in a cardiac intensive care unit. Another patient often saw her brother-in-law, a cardiologist. But the husband and brother-in-law weren't tested for MRSA.
Screening for MRSA and MRSA prevention "will help reduce the risk of future infections," write the researchers, who included Richard Zoumalan, MD, of New York University's medical school.
The findings, published in the March/April edition of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, may not apply to all face-lift patients. And the study doesn't compare MRSA risk after face-lift to MRSA risk after other types of surgery.