A prospective study of the incidence of complications associated with dermatological surgery

Br J Dermatol. 2005 Nov;153(5):967-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.06861.x.


Background: Dermatological surgery is a relatively new and expanding subspecialty within dermatology. Little information is available about complications in this kind of surgery in the European setting.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of anaesthetic, haemorrhagic and infectious complications in dermatological surgery and to highlight the factors associated with these complications.

Methods: Data were collected prospectively over a 3-month period for all surgical procedures performed by a network of dermatologists (n = 84 dermatologists) in France, including the excision of all benign or malignant tumours but excluding sebaceous cysts and pyodermas. Information was collected regarding dermatologists, patients, procedures and complications.

Results: A total of 3788 surgical procedures were available for review; 236 complications, mostly minor, occurred in a total of 213 surgical procedures (6%), bleeding being the most common (3%). Vaso-vagal syncope was the main anaesthetic complication (51 of 54). Infectious complications occurred in 79 patients (2%). Superficial suppuration accounted for 92% of surgical site infections. Only one patient had a systemic infection. Complications requiring additional antibiotic treatment or repeat surgery accounted for only 22 cases of 3788 (1%). No statistically significant correlation was found with the characteristics of the dermatologists, especially with respect to their training or amount of surgical experience. Similarly, no link could be established between complications and surgical conditions. Multivariate analysis showed that anaesthetic or haemorrhagic complications were independent factors for infectious complications. Sex, administration of an anticoagulant or immunosuppressant, type of procedure performed and duration exceeding 24 min were independent factors for haemorrhagic complications.

Conclusions: This study shows a low rate of complications associated with dermatological surgery performed by dermatologists under local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, Local / adverse effects
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / surgery*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology