Methicillin-Resistant : A Comprehensive Review and a Plastic Surgeon’s Approach to the Occult SitesStaphylococcus aureus: A Comprehensive Review and a Plastic Surgeon’s Approach to the Occult Sites Infections: A Comprehensive Review and a Plastic Surgeon’s Approach to the Occult Sites

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Up to 20 percent of the general population is persistently colonized with Staphylococcus aureus, and 1 to 3 percent of the population is colonized with community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus. Currently, the knowledge of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriage sites other than the nose, and their effect on surgical site infections in cosmetic surgery, is lacking.


A comprehensive literature review using the PubMed database to analyze prevalence, anatomical carrier sites, current screening and decontamination protocols and guidelines, and methicillin-resistant S. aureus in cosmetic surgery was performed. The senior author’s (L.R.) methicillin-resistant S. aureus infection experience and prevention protocols were also reviewed.


Nasal swabs detect only 50.5 percent of methicillin-resistant S. aureus colonization, and broad screening has noted the presence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus in the ear canal and umbilicus. Decolonization protocols within the orthopedic and cardiothoracic surgery literature have reduced rates of methicillin-resistant S. aureus surgical-site infections. There are no decolonization guidelines for plastic surgeons. Since instituting their decolonization protocol, the authors have had no cases of methicillin-resistant S. aureus infection in nearly 1000 cosmetic surgery procedures.


There are very limited, if any, Level I or II data regarding methicillin-resistant S. aureus screening and decolonization. As the sequelae of a surgical-site infection can be disastrous, expert opinions recommend that plastic surgeons vigorously address methicillin-resistant S. aureus colonization and infection. The authors have developed and recommend a simple decolonization protocol that includes treatment of the umbilicus, ear canal, and nares to limit surgical-site infection and improve surgical outcomes.

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