To describe 10 patients with skin and soft tissue infection caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria after cosmetic liposuction and liposculpture.
Eight private geographically separate surgical facilities from a single metropolitan area.
Eight patients with definite and 2 with presumptive cases of skin and soft tissue infection caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria after cosmetic surgery procedures during a 24-month period. Microorganisms were isolated from the purulent drainage obtained from wounds or fistulas in 8 cases and were identified as Mycobacterium fortuitum (3 cases) and Mycobacterium abscessus (5 cases) by routine microbiologic techniques. Acid-fast bacilli were observed on Ziehl-Neelsen–stained smears in the 2 remaining cases, but these ultimately failed to grow. In 2 of the surgical units, no apparent environmental predisposing factors were identified after thorough microbiologic environmental investigation. Clinically, all patients exhibited signs of inflammation, microabscesses, and purulent wound drainage within 24 months of abdominal and/or thigh liposuction or homologous fat tissue injection.
A combined therapeutic approach including surgical drainage, debridment, and prolonged (>3 months) treatment with combined antimicrobial agents including clarithromycin was used in all cases.
Nine of 10 patients responded to the combined therapeutic approach, and no evidence of infection was present during at least 12 months of follow-up.
To our knowledge, this is the first series of patients with rapidly growing mycobacterial infections to be described after liposuction and liposculpture. Rapidly growing mycobacteria should be included in the differential diagnosis of skin and soft tissue infection after cosmetic surgery.