Suture materials and other factors associated with tissue reactivity, infection, and wound dehiscence among plastic surgery outpatients

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2001 Jan;107(1):38-45. doi: 10.1097/00006534-200101000-00007.


The most common complications in plastic surgery are tissue reactivity, infections, and wound dehiscence. In the literature, there are only a few studies with sample sizes large enough and methods of statistical analysis appropriate for evaluating the role of suture materials in inducing such complications. In the 1000 plastic surgery outpatients in this study, the association of different suture materials, individual patient characteristics, surgeon skill, and wound site and length with postoperative wound complications (i.e., tissue reactivity, infection rate, and wound dehiscence) were investigated. No substantial differences were found between the different suture materials and suturing techniques. A moderate increase in the risk of tissue reactivity for silk and polyglactin 910 and a protective effect of thinner internal sutures were observed. In multivariate analysis, such differences were not statistically significant. Male sex [odds ratio (OR), 1.7; 95 percent confidence interval (CI), 1.06 to 2.72] and older age (OR, 2.34; 95 percent CI, 1.36 to 4.05) were found to be the most important risk factors for tissue reactivity and infection rate (male sex: OR, 5.1; 95 percent CI, 1.7 to 15.9; older age: OR, 5.6; 95 percent CI, 1.9 to 16), whereas younger age was associated with an increased risk of dehiscence (OR, 3.06; 95 percent CI, 1.41 to 6.65). Wounds on the lower limbs showed a lower risk of tissue reactivity and wounds on the back a higher risk of dehiscence. Wound length was associated with the risk of tissue reactivity in one-layer sutures (OR, 2.92; 95 percent CI, 1.51 to 5.65). An increased risk of both tissue reactivity (OR, 1.53; 95 percent CI, 1.03 to 2.27) and dehiscence (OR, 2.44; 95 percent CI, 1.1 to 5.43) was observed for operations performed by less-experienced surgeons. Rather than factors related to suture materials and different surgical techniques, and with the exception of surgeon experience, general characteristics of the patients (i.e., sex and age) and of the wounds (i.e., length and site) seemed to be primarily responsible for local wound complications.

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants / adverse effects
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures*
  • Catgut / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Foreign-Body Reaction / etiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Insect Proteins / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Polyglactin 910 / adverse effects
  • Polyglycolic Acid / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Silk
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Suture Techniques / adverse effects
  • Sutures / adverse effects*


  • Insect Proteins
  • Silk
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Polyglactin 910