Bacterial Contamination Is Involved in the Etiology of Soft-Tissue Filler, Late-Onset, Inflammatory Adverse Events

Thomas S. Decates*, Andries E. Budding, Peter J. Velthuis, Yara Bachour, Lisanne W. Wolters, Leonie W. Schelke, Tamar E.C. Nijsten, Frank B. Niessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The treatment algorithm in late-onset inflammatory adverse events with soft-tissue fillers depends primarily on the assumed causative factor: immunologic or bacterial. Methods: The authors included 29 patients, 13 of whom experienced late-onset inflammatory adverse events to fillers (inflammatory group) and 16 who did not (reference group). Biopsies were acquired from both groups with an 18-G needle. Before taking the biopsy, the authors acquired skin swabs for 25 of the 29 patients. The IS-pro method - a new and very sensitive method to detect microbiota - was used. This is a novel broad-range polymerase chain reaction technique based on length and sequence variations of the 16S to 23S ribosomal interspacer region. IS-pro can detect bacteria at low abundances and identify them up to species level. To exclude contamination from skin microbiota, the authors compared the microbiota found on skin swabs with that found in the corresponding biopsies. Results: A high level of Gram-positive bacteria was found in biopsies of soft-tissue fillers, predominantly in patients from the inflammation group. This suggests that these bacteria were introduced during the primary filler injection treatment. The composition of the microbiota on the skin differed markedly from that in the filler, indicating that contamination during the sampling process did not influence results. Conclusions: Bacteria adherent to soft-tissue fillers or bacteremia probably play a causative role in adverse events. Contamination of samples in the biopsies with skin microbiota was excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-978
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from ZonMw (Dutch Ministry of Health).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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