The Use of Prophylactic Antibiotics in Plastic Surgery: Update in 2010

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The indications for prophylactic antibiotics in plastic surgery remain controversial. No recent survey has been reported on the use of prophylactic antibiotics by plastic surgeons in clinical practice. This survey was designed to assess the current use of prophylactic antibiotics by plastic surgeons and to compare trends with previous studies.


All members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons with an e-mail address on the Society’s website were contacted via an e-mail and sent a link to a SurveyMonkey questionnaire. To survey only in those subspecialty areas that they practice in, surgeons were queried only on the procedures that they perform. Within each section, a list of common representative procedures was included, with questions about the use of antibiotic prophylaxis.


A total of 3824 American Society of Plastic Surgeons members were contacted. Of the 3613, 910 with working e-mail addresses responded to the survey for a response rate of 25%. And 833 or 91.5% completed the survey. Survey data cover the percentage of surgeons reporting their use of antibiotics in procedures that they currently perform. The percentage of plastic surgeons who use prophylactic antibiotics in almost all procedures studied has increased significantly when compared with earlier studies.


The use of prophylactic antibiotics by plastic surgeons has increased considerably since the prior studies by Krizek et al (Plast Reconstr Surg. 1975;55:21–32 and 1985;76:953–963). Some of these uses are appropriate because of the use in procedures involving implants and longer operations. The elevated rates for clean procedures are not part of the evidence-based practice.

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