Pardon our appearance while we renovate our website. The process may take up to a month and we respectfully request that any papers be submitted after that date. We will post a notice when the site is reopened. The Editorial staff at ePlasty thanks you for your patience and support.
Terms of use | Privacy Policy Home | Contact Us

<< Back
Print E-mail
ePlasty: Vol. 15
Mycobacterium Abscessus Abscess Post-thread Facial Rejuvenation Procedure
Benny Yau, MBBS, Clayton Lang, FRACS Plas, and Raja Sawhney, FRACS Plas

Department of Plastic Surgery, Gold Coast Hospital, Southport QLD, Australia

Correspondence: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Keywords: Mycobacterium abscessus, thread facelift, complication, cosmetic tourism


An immunocompetent 33-year-old woman presented to the Gold Coast Hospital, Australia, with an 8× 6-cm abscess of the right cheek, having had a thread face-lift performed in Thailand 6 weeks prior (Fig 1). Imaging revealed linear echogenic foreign bodies within collection. Thirty milliliters of pus was sent for culture and strands of barbed suture were removed from the wound at the time of drainage. Culture identified Mycobacterium abscessus and the patient was treated with cefoxitin and clarithromycin.

Figure 1. Right facial abscess.


1. What is M abscessus?

2. What is the clinical concern over M abscessus?

3. What is thread lift facial rejuvenation?

4. In which circumstances does M abscessus infection occur postsurgery?


Mycobacterium abscessus is a species of the Mycobacterium family, which includes the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis and leprosy in humans.1 The genus is known for its incredible capacities to resist commonly used antimicrobial agents and survive environmental extremes. M abscessus is classified as a rapid-growing Mycobacterium, that is, species that can form visible colonies within 7 days.1 Recently, a taxonomical change has led to identification of M abscessus as the most common rapid-growing Mycobacterium in human infection.2

M abscessus has been identified to have a significant role in skin and soft tissue infections and is a growing concern for clinicians as it displays antibiotic resistance.3 Certain factors in the anatomical cell membrane composition enable the bacterium to resist hostile environments and antimicrobial therapy.3 The pathogen is mainly associated with clinical infection in immunocompromised patients.1

Thread facelift for facial rejuvenation is a relatively new procedure, which employs blind puncture technique to introduce barbed suture material to the subcutaneous pre-SMAS plane to cause gathering of tissues and provides an alternative to conventional surgical facial rejuvenation techniques such as eyebrow/forehead/mid-face lift.4 There are multiple thread facelift systems available. A technique that has been examined in literature previously is the Anti-ptosis (Aptos) system, which employs a percutaneous technique using 2-polypropelene suture. Previous literature has reported multiple complications including parotid duct injury, scarring, hematoma, and asymmetry.5 This is the first reported case of M abscessus facial abscess following this procedure; however, it is uncertain which brand of suture material was used in this case.

Cases of M abscessus causing postsurgical wound infection outbreaks have been reported from patients undergoing cosmetic procedures abroad.6 The species was isolated to contaminated sinks, instruments, and water in the hospital.6 There is growing concern over patient's travelling overseas for cosmetic procedures in an effort to save money. These patients return home with complications of surgery and often do not receive quality postoperative support from the vendor. Frequently the burden falls to the public system to treat the complications of such surgery.7

This case highlights the growing role of M abscessus as a pathogenic entity. It is emerging as the most pathogenic of the Mycobacterium species to humans. It has the ability to be resistant to multiple antibiotics and is therefore quite difficult to eradicate even in an immunocompetent patient.1-3 The case also highlights the issue of cosmetic tourism and the burden on the public health system as postoperative care is lacking for patients who return home after undergoing a procedure overseas. In these cases, little information is available for the patients preoperatively in regard to the qualifications and standards of the care they are receiving.7 Eradication of a M abscessus abscess requires prompt multidisciplinary care, with expedient surgical clearance and treatment with appropriate antibiotics under the care of an infectious diseases specialist. Mycobacterium should be considered even in immunocompetent patients presenting with infection with a history of travel and surgery.


1. Grange JM. The Genus Mycobacterium. Mycobacteria and Human Disease. 2nd ed. New York and London: Arnold Publications and Oxford University Press; 1996:11-40.

2. Brown-Eliott, BA, Wallace RJ Jr. Clinical and taxonomic status of pathogenic non pigmented or late-pigmenting rapidly growing mycobacteria. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2002;15:716-46.

3. Daffe M, Draper P. The envelope layers of mycobacteria with reference to their pathogenicity. Adv Microb. Physiol. 1998;39:131-203.

4. Sulamanidze MA, Fournier PF, Paikidze TG, Sulamanidze G. Removal of facial soft tissue ptosis with special threads. Dermatol Surg. 2000;28:367.

5. Winkler E, Goldan O, Regev E, Mendes D, Orenstein A, Haik J. Stensen duct rupture (sialocele) and other complications of the Aptos thread technique. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2006;118:1468.

6. Furuya EY, Paez A, Srinivasan A, et al. Outbreak of Mycobacterium abscessus wound infections among “lipotourists” from the United States who underwent abdominoplasty in the Dominican Republic. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;46:1181-8.

7. Miyagi K, Auberson D, Patel AJ, Malata CM. The unwritten price of cosmetic tourism: an observational study and cost analysis. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2012;65:22-8.

Journal ID: ePlasty Volume: 15
ISSN: 1937-5719 E-location ID: ic19
Publisher: Open Science Company, LLC Published: April 7, 2015

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Digg! yahoobuzz! StumbleUpon! Reddit! Technorati!! Mixx! Free and Open Source Software News Google! Live! Facebook! Yahoo! Joomla Free PHP