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Cellulitis is a serious type of bacterial skin infection. It is usually caused by strains of staphylococcus or streptococcus embedding inside wounds or open lesions on the skin. A course of strong antibiotics, medications for other symptoms, and proper care of the site of infection are usually enough to cure the condition, so cellulitis surgery is typically unnecessary. In severe and special cases, however, cellulitis surgery may be considered to prevent serious complications. Surgery is performed when an infection is very deep, surrounds a limb, spreads quickly, or begins actually killing skin tissue.
Mild cellulitis is characterized by skin redness, inflammation, and tenderness in a well-defined patch. Mild fever, nausea, and fatigue may accompany infection. Doctors usually treat mild cellulitis on an outpatient basis with oral antibiotics and topical itch- and pain-relieving creams. No further medical care or surgical intervention is necessary unless the rash starts to worsen or spread despite about two weeks of antibiotic treatment.
More serious cases of cellulitis may require a hospital stay. Patients can experience spreading rashes, high fevers, muscle and joint aches, and persistent nausea. Symptoms and the underlying condition are treated accordingly with antibiotics, careful wound dressing, fluids, and monitoring. Cellulitis surgery does not even need to be considered in the majority of cases, and infections begin to clear up within one to three weeks.
Certain factors do indicate the need for cellulitis surgery or at least a consultation with a surgical specialist. Circumferential cellulitis, which refers to a rash that reaches all the way around an arm, leg, or neck, increases the risk of damage to nerves and blood vessels that stretch below the rash. Surgery is needed to ensure that vital structures are preserved and remove sections of severely damaged skin tissue. Cellulitis that appears around an eye may also indicate the need for surgery to prevent possible vision loss.
Some cases of aggressive cellulitis form abscesses deep within the innermost layers of skin. An abscess is typically very difficult to treat non-surgically. A specialist can drain excess pus and fluid from the abscess and remove it around its borders with a scalpel. The surrounding skin can be glued, sutured, and treated with topical antibiotics to reduce scarring.
An untreated rash may impair blood supply to a patch of skin, causing the cells to die. The result is called necrotizing fasciitis and can lead to permanent black marks and deformities. Cellulitis surgery is necessary whenever signs of necrotizing fasciitis are present. With immediate care, most cases of cellulitis can be overcome without lasting complications.