Leading Plastic Surgeon Dr. Darshan Shah Educates Patients on Preventing MRSA Post Cosmetic Procedures

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Continuing his dedication to boost safety through patient education, cosmetic surgeon Dr. Darshan Shah--of Beautologie Medical Group in Bakersfield, CA--addresses the fear surrounding the MRSA ("superbug") infection by putting the panic in perspective and providing information on how to prevent contraction post plastic surgery.

Community-Associated MRSA Information for the Public.

In response to amplified public concern surrounding the MRSA "superbug," Dr. Darshan Shah, of Beautologie Medical Group in Bakersfield, CA, is seeking to decrease fear and increase safety by educating patients on the causes of this infection and, more importantly, how they can take simple precautions to significantly reduce their risk of contraction following cosmetic procedures.

What Is MRSA?
MRSA--short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus--is a bacterial "staph" infection dubbed by the media a "superbug" because of its resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)*, MRSA bacteria is present in only about one percent of the population; and while just carrying the bacteria, termed "colonization," does not mean an individual will become ill, they can still pass it to others who may develop the more serious, and potentially fatal, surgical wound/skin infections, bloodstream infections, or pneumonia.

What Is Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) and How Does It Differ from MRSA?
MRSA is most often seen in people in hospitals and healthcare centers who have weakened immune systems. However, in the 1990s, it began appearing in the general public. According to the CDC, "MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are know [sic] as CA-MRSA infections."

What Kicked Off Recent Concern?
In the last six months to a year, elevated media coverage--resulting from a CDC report in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association--has alerted the public to an increased risk of developing MRSA, both in surgical facilities as well as in the community in general. However, although statistics do point to the fact that CA-MRSA in particular is on the rise, the risk of acquiring the infection can be greatly minimized with solid patient education.

According to Dr. Shah, who is one of the industry's leaders in breast and body procedures as well as ranked among California's top 10 breast augmentation specialists, "We (surgeons) have always had to deal with the threat of post-surgical infection, and for a number of years now, have had a duty to educate patients on how to protect themselves against MRSA; now, however, with the attention in the news, patients are actually requesting the information from me before I even have a chance to bring it up…it's something that is at the forefront of their minds."

MRSA and Cosmetic Procedures
So how does the risk of MRSA and CA-MRSA relate specifically to those considering plastic surgery? The main reason that cosmetic patients need to be concerned about MRSA is that having a fresh incision makes one more susceptible to contracting an infection. And while a facility such as Beautologie Surgery Center prides itself on maintaining a sterile environment and boasts one of the lowest rates of any type of post-op infection in the country, most plastic procedures are outpatient, which means patients return home, and into the community, the same day as their surgeries. Consequently, the responsibility for protecting against infection rests predominantly on the patients themselves.

Dr. Shah's Tips for Preventing MRSA
So what are the most effective measures patients can take toward prevention? Compiled from materials distributed by the Mayo Clinic** and the CDC, Dr. Shah tailors his tips specifically to protecting patients from MRSA following plastic surgery.

Prior to your procedure:

  •     Prepare your place before surgery. Clean your home thoroughly prior to your surgery by wiping down all surfaces with a cleaning solution that states explicitly on the label that it kills methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, such Mr. Clean Antibacterial Multi-Surface spray or StaphAseptic (http://www.StaphASeptic.com). This means you'll return home to safe surroundings and eliminate the need to wipe away (and come into contact with) germs when your incisions are at their most vulnerable.
  •     Sanitize towels and bedding. Wash all linens directly before your procedure, so only clean cloths will be near your fresh incisions. Continue to cleanse towels, bedding, and clothing frequently for a month post op, washing and drying on "hot" (and adding bleach, ideally).

For the first MONTH post op:

  •     Keep hands clean. Wash hands regularly with soap and water, particularly after returning home or touching shared surfaces: Scrub thoroughly for a minimum of 15 seconds, then dry with a non-reusable towel (such as a paper towel), and turn off faucet using a fresh sheet. Of course, remember to always wash your hands before touching your incisions!
  •     Keep incisions clean and covered. Since recent wounds allow easy entry for MRSA and other bacterial infections, the most important protective pointer is to make sure your incision(s) are clean and covered at all times, using simple soap and water; then wrapping with a fresh, dry bandage; and even still, avoiding skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. Remember, moisture creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow; so keep your incisions as dry as possible.
  •     Pack Purell (and pass it around!) When out and about, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in case you get caught without the ability to wash. At home, give each family member a bottle of their own, so they can avoid passing potentially dangerous bacteria on to you.
  •     Shun the sharing of personal items. Since MRSA can be spread via contaminated items as well as direct contact, it's crucial that you not share anything that touches your incisions until they are completely healed, including towels, razors, sheets and blankets, and clothing. Because CA-MRSA is contagious in the community at large, anyone--no matter how hygienic--is a potential carrier…and can potentially pass it along to you!
  •     Keep yourself clean. The cleaner your body in general, the less likely bacteria is to find its way into your wound(s). Therefore, for the month following your surgery, make certain you shower (with soap) regularly, particularly after public outings or exercise.
  •     Avoid breeding-grounds for bacteria. Because certain places--like schools, hospitals, gyms, and jails--are known for being ripe with bacteria (including MRSA), try your best to stay away until you are fully healed. If absolutely unavoidable, make sure your incisions are well bandaged and covered with clothing.
  •     Watch for warning signs of MRSA. Keep an eye on your incision(s), and call your surgeon immediately if you observe an increase in redness, swelling, or tenderness, or if you develop any "oozing," drainage, or a fever.

What if I Become Infected…Is MRSA Treatable?
Yes; MRSA can be remedied with certain antibiotics or treating/draining the infected abscess or boil itself. So while MRSA does have the potential to be life threatening, nearly all sources come to a similar conclusion: People themselves play an integral role in staying safe. MRSA is a serious issue, but one that can be controlled by hygienic precautions.

Which brings us back to the beginning. Presently, our strongest allies in the fight against MRSA are surgeons like Dr. Shah…those who are stepping up to educate patients, making sure they (and the public in general) understand the risks and, most importantly, how they themselves can take control by practicing some relatively simple precautions against contracting this so-called "superbug."

*Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Community-Associated MRSA Information for the Public." For original article and references, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_ca_public.html.

**Content source: MayoClinic.com, "MRSA: Understand your risk and how to prevent infection." For original article and references, visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mrsa/ID00049.

To speak with Dr. Shah or a member of his team, or to schedule a free consultation to discuss whether cosmetic surgery is a viable option for you, call (661) 577-4179 or visit http://www.drshah.com for a preliminary virtual consultation.

Dr. Darshan Shah, MD, FACS, is one of the industry's most widely respected plastic and reconstructive surgeons. With offices in Bakersfield and Beverly Hills, California, he specializes in breast and body procedures including tummy tucks, liposuction, breast augmentation, and breast lifts. Dr. Shah's credentials include Board Certification by the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and specialized training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. His extensive training, combined with the experience of over 8000 surgical procedures, has earned him the "Best in Bakersfield" title in 2006, 2007, and 2008. At the Kern Medical Center--University of California, San Diego, his work in breast cancer surgery earned him the Helfert award, given only to the most outstanding surgical chief resident; he is currently ranked among the top 10 breast augmentation surgeons statewide and has been featured on television shows including the Dr. Phil Show, Cutting Edge MDs 3, Extreme Makeover, The Wellness Hour, and the Today Show, as well as in numerous magazines and newspapers including The New York Times.

For more information on Beautologie Medical Group, and to view a complete list of the training and credentials of Dr. Shah and his associates, please visit http://www.drshah.com.

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