Plastic Surgery and Preventing Viral Infections

By Sara Folsom © 2009 Staff Writer

With the recent "Swine Flu" health scare, many people have been going into hygiene overload – wearing masks, stocking up on sanitizer, and keeping clear of crowded, public areas. However, even without a threat of a pandemic running amuck, it is always important to stay in prevention mode when it comes to viral infections, especially before and after a plastic surgery procedure.

Swine Flu

Risks and complications in plastic surgery have lessened over time due to modern technology and the latest advances in surgical techniques; nonetheless, preventative measures should be taken regardless of the level of safety involved.

Whether it is a surgical procedure, such as breast augmentation, or a minimally invasive procedure such as Botox ®, safety should start with the surgeon. When selecting a cosmetic professional for your surgery, you should choose a physician who is highly experienced, it is essential that you find a qualified surgeon who specializes in your procedure(s) of choice. Be sure to find out where the procedure, such as breast enhancement, is performed and whether it is in a licensed facility; typically, this will ensure that the surgery center abides by the best practices in health care and complies with nationally recognized standards.

Prior to surgery, being in good health is of upmost importance in preventing infections. Taking multi-vitamins, getting necessary nutrients for your body (ask your doctor for recommendations), drinking plenty of water, and other everyday healthy habits should be, if not already, incorporated into your daily routine.

Smoking and drinking alcohol before and after surgery will prolong healing, putting some patients at risk for infections and complications. Physicians typically recommend quitting smoking and drinking at least two weeks before your procedure to two weeks post-surgery. Of course, the more time that you prohibit these habits will keep you in better overall health.

“Prior to surgery, being in good health is of upmost importance in preventing infections.”

Your plastic surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your surgery, which will depend on the type of procedure you undergo. It is important to follow them accordingly. You should make sure to clean your skin with anti-bacterial wash the day of your surgery, paying extra attention to the surgical site.

Before going into surgery, examine the cleanliness of the doctor’s surgical facility. You may be under anesthesia before going into surgery; however, keep an eye on that person’s hygiene habits, such as: Is he/she washing his/her hands? Is he/she using gloves? Are the surgical instruments sanitized? Do not hesitate to ask him/her to wash his/her hands again or to put on a new set of gloves.

Post-surgery instructions from your doctor should not be taken lightly; therefore, to prevent infection, keep the surgical site clean and monitor your healing progress. Your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection.

According to, the following could be indications of infection:

  • Purulent yellow or green discharge from the surgical site
  • A change in odor of the discharge
  • Delayed healing (you doctor will give you an idea on how long healing should take)
  • Redness or hardening of the surgical area
  • The incision is hot to the touch
  • Fever
  • A change in the size of the incision

If you notice that any of these signs and/or pain has increased, contact your medical professional immediately. Ignoring such problems may lead to more serious complications.

There are always risks and uncertainties associated with a surgical procedure, but you can prevent most of them from occurring if you take certain precautions. Whether a viral infection, like the Swine Flu, is lurking around or not, everyday healthy habits and preventative measures will aid in protecting you from other viruses. This will especially help to fight infections and prevent complications from occurring when undergoing plastic surgery.