Postoperative infection following clean facial surgery

Ann Plast Surg. 1997 Oct;39(4):342-6. doi: 10.1097/00000637-199710000-00003.


Postoperative facial wound infection and breakdown adds to patient morbidity and compromises the cosmetic outcome. This prospective study of 351 patients with a total of 464 wounds for clean elective facial surgery assessed three significant risk factors for wound infection: operative site, oncological surgery, and complex surgery. The findings demonstrated a significantly higher infection rate for the nasal and auricular zones compared with the rest of the face. Wound infection rates were 6.5% for the nasal area, 5% for the auricular area, and 1.5% for the rest of the face. The higher risk of infection to these zones was found to be independent of the lesion excised (benign vs. malignant) and the complexity of the surgery performed. Oncological surgery (skin cancer) and complex surgery (skin grafts and local flaps) were found to increase the risk of postoperative infection significantly by up to fifteenfold compared with nononcological operations with direct closure. The associated morbidity and compromised cosmetic results with facial surgical wound breakdown makes it important to identify these higher risk factors and consider added prophylaxis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cellulitis / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Facial Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Transplantation*
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / etiology*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology*
  • Suture Techniques