Quantifying and Characterizing Adverse Events in Dermatologic Surgery


  • The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to:

Daniel Pearce, MD, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, or e-mail: dpearce@wakehealth.edu



Although office-based dermatologic procedures are generally considered safe, there is a lack of prospective data on the rate of adverse events (AEs) associated with these procedures.


To determine the frequency of AEs after dermatologic surgery and to characterize the most commonly encountered AEs.


A web-based interface was designed to track AEs with the input of four dermatologic surgeons. Patient demographic and operative data were collected at the time of the dermatologic surgery procedure. AEs occurring at any time during the data collection period were logged according to an a priori categorization scheme.


The AE rate was 2.0% in this series of 2,418 subjects undergoing dermatologic surgery from February 1 through December 14, 2010. The most commonly reported AEs were suspicion of infection (64%), postoperative hemorrhage (20%), and wound dehiscence (8%). Suspicion of infection was slightly less frequent in subjects who received prophylactic preoperative antibiotics (0.4%) than in those who did not (1.5%, p = .07). There were no serious AEs and no deaths.


AEs are uncommon after office-based dermatologic surgery procedures. Preoperative antibiotics may further decrease the infection rate after dermatologic surgery, but the risks and benefits must be weighed given the already low AE rate.