Background: In this prospective study, we followed patients after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding for morbid obesity who underwent abdominoplasty for body contouring. Our purposes were: 1) to determine if a significant relationship between cigarette smoking and postoperative wound infections existed, 2) the relative risk conferred by cigarettes and 3) a cut-off value for the increased risk.
Methods: Patients scheduled for body contouring abdominoplasty were considered eligible. We excluded those with ongoing clinical infections, recent antibiotic administration, those within 1 year from their bariatric surgery and those with systemic diseases. Smokers were asked to stop smoking at least 4 weeks before surgery.
Results: Since November 2004, we recruited 60 patients. Postoperative infections were present in 25% (n=15) of patients and 86.7% of these (n=13) were superficial. All except one occurred in smokers (P = 0.0001): 47% of smokers and 3% of nonsmokers developed infections. Significant differences between infections vs infection-free patients were present for the number of cigarettes smoked per day (P<0.001), years of smoking (P< 0.001), overall estimated cigarettes smoked and the number of pack years (P = 0.001). A cut-off value of approximately 62,000 overall estimated cigarettes (8.5 pack years) distinguished between infections vs infection-free patients (6.2% false positives and 7.1% false negatives). Relative risk conferred by smoking was 14 (95% confidence intervals 13.3-16.7).
Conclusions: The incidence of infections in post-bariatric patients undergoing body contouring abdominoplasties is 25%. The relative risk conferred by smoking was 14 and the cut-off value was 62,000 overall cigarettes (8.5 pack years).