How Can You Feel Good When You are Cold? Plastic Surgeons Focus on Patient Comfort

Prevention Part of Ongoing ASAPS Campaign for Patient Safety

New York, NY (October 31, 2006) – Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature drops more than 2 degrees, (hypothermia ≤ 96.8°F [36°C]).  Unless preventive measures are instituted, inadvertent hypothermia of some degree occurs in 50% to 90% of surgical patients, including but not limited to aesthetic surgery patients, leading to a higher risk of complications, adverse outcomes, and patient discomfort. Plastic surgeons want every aspect of their patients’ experience to be as comfortable as possible, from consultation to recovery room.  Prevention of hypothermia is neither difficult nor expensive, and preventive measures can eliminate hours of needless pain and misery for patients, according to a new study published in the September/October 2006 issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the official, peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

The Aesthetic Surgery Journal announced the publication of a new patient safety review article that provides evidence-based approaches for preventing perioperative hypothermia—hypothermia that occurs before, during or after surgery—in cosmetic surgery patients.  Aesthetic plastic surgeons are interested in preventing hypothermia because it is a patient safety issue as well as a patient comfort issue.

“Hypothermia is a common but avoidable part of plastic surgery.  If you’ve had a patient shivering in the surgical recovery area, you’ve had a hypothermic patient, and that’s something we need to keep working to prevent,” said Charlotte, N.C. plastic surgeon Felmont Eaves, MD, chair of the ASAPS Patient Safety Steering Committee, which commissioned the study. “There is no reason for patients to feel cold at any point before or after surgery. Prevention—which makes procedures safer for patients and saves them from hours of unnecessary pain and discomfort—is not difficult or expensive.”

The complications of perioperative hypothermia include increased risk of heart attack and stroke, coagulation disorders and blood loss, surgical wound infections, and postoperative shivering. These events can increase recovery times, hospital stays and costs. Effective ways to prevent hypothermia in the surgical setting include warming patients preoperatively and during surgery with forced-air heating systems and using fluid warming systems. Other measures include maintaining an ambient operating room temperature of approximately ≤ 73°F (22.8°C), covering as much of the patient’s body surface as possible, and aggressively treating postoperative shivering.

“If a patient wakes up from surgery shivering it is distressful for the patient and the surgical team,” agrees Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD, Chair of ASAPS’ Public Education Committee. “We know that preventing hypothermia is inexpensive and relatively easy to do.”

Hypothermia prevention is the second issue being tackled by the ASAPS Campaign for Patient Safety, an ongoing initiative to raise awareness of steps that plastic surgeons and their patients can take to improve the safety of cosmetic surgery. The first campaign issue focused on the prevention of venous thromboembolism.

“These campaigns are designed not only to educate ASAPS members, but to also involve related organizations so that nurses, office staff and our other partners in patient care can work with us to create an integrated culture of safety,” said Miami plastic surgeon James M. Stuzin, MD, President of ASAPS. “There is a growing awareness among plastic surgeons that hypothermia is an important patient safety issue. Maintaining normothermia keeps patients safer and can completely change a patient’s perception of surgery for the better.”

For more information, log onto  To access the complete journal article, “Prevention of Perioperative Hypothermia in Plastic Surgery,” log onto

About ASJ

The Aesthetic Surgery Journal is the official, peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the official English-language journal of plastic surgery societies in South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.  It is the most widely read clinical journal in the field of cosmetic surgery, with subscribers in more than 80 countries.


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery is the leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery. ASAPS active-member plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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