Can Outpatient Plastic Surgery Be Done Safely During a COVID-19 Surge? Results of a July 2020 Los Angeles Survey and Literature Review

Steven Teitelbaum, John Diaz and Robert Singer

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Background: A moratorium was placed on nonurgent surgery throughout much of the United States in mid-March 2020 due to surging numbers of COVID-19 cases. Several months later, and with new safety precautions in place, elective surgery gradually resumed. However, no data exist on the safety of plastic surgery during the pandemic.

Objectives: This aim of this survey was to assess the safety of plastic surgery during the pandemic by quantifying: (1) the preoperative prevalence of SARS-CoV-2; (2) the risk of postoperative COVID-19; (3) outcomes and precious resource utilization for such cases; and (4) the risks to office staff.

Methods: Los Angeles plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) were sent an online survey in July 2020, during a local COVID-19 surge, querying about the number of procedures performed in the 8- to 10-week period since reopening, testing policies, surgical complications, and cases among staff.

Results: In total, 112 surgeons reported 5633 surgeries since resuming elective surgery. Of these, 103 (91.96%) surgeons obtained a preoperative SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for every patient. The preoperative PCR test was positive in 41/5881 (0.69%). Positive tests within 2 weeks postoperation occurred in 7/5380 (0.13%) of surgical patients, 3/8506 (0.04%) of injection patients, and 6/2519 (0.24%) of energy therapy patients. Nine offices reported at least 1 staff member who developed COVID-19. All cases were mild, with no hospitalizations or deaths.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that plastic surgery can be performed safely during a COVID-19 surge by ABPS diplomates. This has profound impact for patients, plastic surgeons, and health policy regulators.

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Steven Teitelbaum

Plastic Surgeon, USA

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Go to the profile of Maurice Nahabedian
12 months ago

Nice work Steve. Totally agree.