Resumption of sexual activity after plastic surgery: current practice and recommendations

Marlene Rankin, Gregory Borah, Sonia Alvarez
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2007, 120 (6): 1557-63

BACKGROUND: Information on sexual counseling and practice guidelines after plastic surgery is quite limited and poorly documented as part of clinical care after surgery. The aim of this study was to assess board-certified plastic surgeons' current practices and to make clinical recommendations for resumption of sexual activity in the postoperative period.

METHODS: A descriptive mailed survey of randomly chosen American Society of Plastic Surgeons' members was designed to evaluate plastic surgeons' methods of screening for sexual concerns, the frequency of postoperative discussions with patients, and clinical recommendations for safe sexual positions.

RESULTS: There were 281 respondents, for a response rate of 40 percent. A minority of plastic surgeons (32.9 percent) felt it was the surgeon's role to provide postoperative sexual counseling regarding restrictions and guidelines; the majority of plastic surgeons (63 percent) felt that their nurse should provide this service. Patients never (46.6 percent) or rarely (23.8 percent) asked about sexual activity restrictions after surgery. Some surgeons (27.8 percent) proactively discussed postoperative sexual activity, but 57.3 percent said they rarely or never gave specific advice. There were gender differences; male plastic surgeons discussed specific sexual techniques and positions significantly more frequently than female plastic surgeons (p = 0.001), and patients ask male plastic surgeons significantly more frequently about sexual activity restrictions than they do female plastic surgeons (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Many plastic surgeons gave little or no advice to patients regarding resumption of sexual activity after surgery, and the majority of patients do not initiate the discussion. Most surgeons expect their nursing staff to provide sexual counseling.

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