Demystifying the “July Effect” in plastic surgery: A multi-institutional study

Jordan T. Blough, Sumanas W. Jordan, Gildasio S. De Oliveira, Michael M. Vu, John Y.S. Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: The “July Effect” refers to a theoretical increase in complications that may occur with the influx of inexperienced interns and residents at the beginning of each academic year in July. Objectives: We endeavored to determine if a July Effect occurs in plastic surgery. Methods: Plastic surgery procedures were isolated from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program registry. Cases involving residents were grouped as either having occurred within the first academic quarter (AQ1) or remaining year (AQ2-4). Groups were propensity matched using patient/ operative factors and procedure type to account for baseline differences. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses assessed differences in overall complications, surgical and medical complications, individual complications, length of hospital stay, and operative time. A comparison group comprised of procedures without resident involvement was also analyzed. Results: There were 5967 cases with resident involvement, 5156 of which successfully matched. Both univariate and multivariate regression analyses revealed no significant differences between AQ1 and AQ2-4 in terms of overall, surgical, medical and individual complications, or length of hospital stay. There was a statistically significant, albeit not clinically significant, increase in operative time by 10 minutes per procedure during AQ1 in comparison to AQ2-4 (P = 0.001). For procedures lacking resident participation, there were no differences between AQ1 and AQ2-4 in terms of these outcomes. Conclusions: A July Effect was not observed for plastic surgery procedures in our study, conceivably due to enhanced resident oversight and infrastructural safeguards. Patients electing to undergo plastic surgery early in the academic year can be reassured of their safety during this period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-224
Number of pages13
JournalAesthetic surgery journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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