Nose Job Implants May Raise Infection Risk, Study Finds

Patients who undergo nose surgery with synthetic implants may increase the risk of infection requiring additional medical procedures, a study found.

About 20 percent of the patients who used implants such as Stryker Corp.’s Medpor developed infections, while 5.3 percent who used products like W. L. Gore & Associate’s Gore-Tex got infections, according to research released today by the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Nose surgery, called rhinoplasty, is the most common cosmetic or reconstructive procedure for men and women younger than 35, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery said in a February report based on a survey of its member doctors. Today’s study, one of the largest to look at synthetic implants such as Stryker’s Medpor, shows that patients need to know the risks before the procedure, said Andrew Winkler, the lead study author.

“This is a cautionary paper,” said Winkler, an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Colorado in Aurora, in an Aug. 24 telephone interview. “The patient needs to be aware that the complication rate is higher with this implant at least in this study.”

Joe Cooper, a spokesman for Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker, declined to comment on the study findings.

Implants may be used when a patient’s tissue is unavailable from the nose, the ear or the ribs. Medpor, a type of porous high-density polyethylene, is firm and used in rhinoplasty to help structurally rebuild the nose. Stryker gained the product in its October 2010 acquisition of Porex Surgical. Gore-Tex, or expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, is floppy and most commonly used on the ridge of the nose to build up height, Winkler said.

If an infection occurs, patients may have to take an antibiotic and if it doesn’t clear up then the implant needs to be removed and the surgery may have to be redone, he said.

Researchers in the study looked at 662 rhinoplasty procedures conducted from 1999 to 2008. Of those, 151 procedures used implants. They found that 19 of the patients developed an infection. All the infections occurred in patients who had implants used during their surgery.

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