It is a very common practice in hospitals that nurses shave the area that needs a surgical operation. It can be seen both in movies and in real life. Why does this happen? Why do the nurses shave patients before surgery? Is it necessary to shave the area that needs surgery or is it just fake news? In this article, I am going to answer all the questions that might come to your mind before having a surgical treatment.
Prepping before a surgical Operation:
Usually, before a surgical process, some of the normal test and check-up is done by nurses and other staff members of the medical team. These may include checking your pulse, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. They can also mark the area that will be used during the treatment. A member of a medical team either a nurse or a doctor will shave the target area that needs surgical treatment.
Composition of Medical team:
A small group of nurses and qualified doctors will form a medical team to check whether everything goes smoothly or not. The type of people in the medical team usually depends upon the procedure that needs to be done. But normally, a medical team consists of a surgeon, anesthesiologist, certified registered nurse anesthetic, surgical tech, and operating room nurse.
There are two reasons behind this that why surgeon thinks that shaving the target area is necessary before the treatment.
- Some doctors and surgeons believe that it is very important to remove anything that might obstruct their view thus affecting the results of the surgical process.
- While some other surgeons believe that bacteria or viruses might cling to the hairs of the patient thus contaminating the site that needs surgery. Thus, they think that shaving is necessary to remove the risk of these bacteria and viruses. If they are ignored, they might lead to several chronic or lethal diseases but the chances of such diseases are very rare.
Research have been done in the past and the final results of the research:
Some research are done in the past to check whether the above two arguments are true or not. These results of these researches tell us that shaving the skin of a patient before a surgical treatment might reduce the risk of some infections.
According to the centers for disease control and prevention, infections on these surgical sites are a leading cause of several complications among patients in hospitals. A rough estimate shows that these infections account for near about 1 out of 5 healthcare-associated infections and hundreds to thousands of death per annum.
A study was done in the past and was published in the journal Spine. In this study, a group of people was used. All these people needed spinal surgery. Some of them were shaved with a razor blade while most of them were not shaved in any way. The spinal surgery was done on these patients and then results were recorded by them. The results told a completely different story.
According to the final results, despite low chances of postoperative infections overall, these infections were more common among those who were shaved for the procedure than among those who were not shaved in any manner for the surgical treatment. What was the reason behind all this? According to the experts, shaving the skin before the treatment with a razor blade created microscopic pores and nicks in the skin of the patients. These nicks or pores became a breeding site for bacteria thus causing infections.
A series of guidelines were released centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the risk of infections on the surgical sites. According to these guidelines, Centres of Disease Control and Prevention suggest that the hairs on the surgical site should not be removed unless the hairs can interfere with the surgical site or can lead to totally undesirable results after the treatment. If shaving is necessary, for the treatment then it is advised to use electrical clippers for shaving.
Mode of Action of Bacteria:
Some bacteria live in our hair follicles. When we use wax or razor it creates small microscopic pores on our body. The bacteria on hair follicles try to enter our bodies through these microscopic pores. They will reside in those pores thus leading to a condition called folliculitis. Furthermore, usually a perfectly smooth skin is not a necessary part of a successful surgical process. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines suggest that patients have a bath or shower with an antiseptic agent or a soap before a day or at least a night before surgical treatment. The surgeon will also prepare the area before surgery.
Preventive measures (Timing):
When shaving your skin that needs surgery, make sure to do this a few days before the actual treatment. Shaving the area a few moments before the surgery allows the bacteria to remain on that area.
Another study on this matter revealed that the patients with shaved incision sites with a razor blade have a risk of a 5.6% rate of infection. While in case the hairs are removed with electronic clippers then the risk of infection is reduced to less than one percent.
Shaving with a razor or a blade can expose your skin to bacteria. Your skin will become a breeding site of bacteria and viruses. When they breed on your skin, you are a risk to get a postoperative infection on your skin. This infection can be fatal.
In this regard, the doctors and surgeons are advised to avoid shaving off the area that needs surgical treatment unless it is necessary. If there is a chance that the hairs might interfere with the treatment, then only in that case the doctors should move toward shaving of the target area. But, they should avoid using a razor blade for shaving and they should prefer using electronic clippers for shaving instead of a razor blade.