Background: This randomized controlled trial was designed to assess whether dressing wear time could influence surgical-site infection rates and skin colonization. Patients' perception at self-assessment was also analyzed.
Methods: Seventy patients undergoing reduction mammaplasty were randomly allocated to group I (dressing removed on postoperative day 1) or group II (dressing removed on postoperative day 6). Surgical-site infections were defined by standard criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Skin colonization was assessed by a culture of samples collected at predefined time points. Patients scored dressing wear time in regard to safety, comfort, and convenience.
Results: Nine patients (12.9 percent) had an infection, seven from group I and two from group II (p = 0.09). There was no difference between the groups in regard to skin colonization before dressing, but on postoperative day 6, there was higher skin colonization by coagulase-negative staphylococci in group I (p = 0.000). If they had the choice, 66 percent of the patients in group I would choose to keep the dressing for 1 day, whereas 83 percent of the patients in group II would prefer to keep the dressing for 6 days (p = 0.000). Patients in group II also considered keeping the dressing for 6 days a safer choice (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: There was no difference in surgical-site infection rates between groups, but higher colonization levels were observed in group I on postoperative day 6. Most of the patients would choose to keep dressing for 6 days postoperatively, which was perceived as a safer choice.
CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, II.