E. Coli Infection After Breast Reduction?

Had breast reduction 4.5 wks. ago, started draining 2 wks. ago & incisions opened up in 3 spots. Told dr.'s asst. & she said I was ok just keep the wounds clean & dry. Went to a wound clinic, received Aquacel AG & took cultures. Results indicated an E. Coli infection! I showered with Dial, took Bactrim, no baths/swimming, changed bras daily, used hydrogen peroxide and clean q-tips/cotton balls, changed towels & washcloths every other day. Is this normal? How did this happen & how to treat?

Doctor Answers 5

Infection after breast reduction

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It is unusual to have an infection after a breast reduction, but it can happen. The most important thing is to treat it with antibiotics and get the wound clean.  Follow closely with your surgeon.

Infection after Breast Reduction?

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I'm sorry to hear about the complication you have experienced  after breast reduction surgery. At this point, it may be very difficult to ascertain the exact source of the E. coli bacteria;  online consultants can only speculate.

 Also, at this point, the most important thing is that you be treated appropriately with close follow-up with your plastic surgeon. Appropriate antibiotics (tailored to culture  and bacteria sensitivity results),  drainage procedures, dressing changes etc. may be necessary.

 Hopefully, once this infection is resolved, you will be pleased with the long-term outcome of the procedure performed.

Best wishes.

E. Coli Infection After Reduction

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As the other surgeon pointed out E. Coli comes from the bowels.  Surgical wounds are essentially "water tight" in 24-48 hours.  Because of the timing, and the nature of E. Coli the infection likely occurred post surgical.  I agree that it could have come from changing diapers, taking care of the elderly with bowel issues or simply touching someone who didn't wash their hands after using the bathroom.  Yes, that last one is nasty but unfortunately very common. E.Coli is sticky and to fully eradicate it the implant will have to be removed. 

E. Coli- an enteric bacteria

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 E. Coli is an enteric bacteria. It typically can come from feces exposure. Do you have a baby or young child at home who is not potty trained or are caring for an elderly incontinent individual? That may be the source of your exposure and subsequent process. Best,


Gary R Culbertson, MD, FACS

Gary R. Culbertson, MD
Columbia Plastic Surgeon

E. coli infection after breast reduction

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E. coli is an enteric bacteria - the other answers describe potential sources for this bacteria.  Regardless, the more pressing issue is to have your infection treated appropriately.  I trust that you are also being followed by your plastic surgeon, and with such, ensure that you are on appropriate antibiotics specific for this bacteria, as it will not be covered by the typical antibiotics used to treat skin infections.  Moreover, your surgeon will evaluate your wound and determine the progress of the treatment along with the possible need for surgical intervention if the wound fails to progress with appropriate therapy or worsens.  Good luck!

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.