Hemorrhagic complications of cutaneous surgery for patients taking antithrombotic therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis

George F. Bonadurer, Andrea P. Langeveld, Soogan C. Lalla, Randall K. Roenigk, Christopher J. Arpey, Clark C. Otley, Christian L. Baum, Leah C.Osterhaus Trzasko, Jerry D. Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cutaneous operations are generally safe procedures with minimal major risks. Excessive bleeding occasionally occurs, especially for patients taking antithrombotic medications. Conversely, stopping these medications before cutaneous surgery may increase the risk of a thromboembolic event. We aimed to synthesize the evidence regarding the risk of hemorrhage and thromboembolic events for patients undergoing cutaneous surgery while taking antithrombotic therapy. We performed a comprehensive search to identify randomized controlled trials and cohort studies that compared rates of hemorrhage and/or thromboembolic events between patients receiving antithrombotic therapy at cutaneous surgery and patients not receiving it. Odds ratio (OR) and risk difference for complications were calculated with random-effects models. Of 9214 patients taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications, 323 (3.5%) had hemorrhagic complications; of 21,696 control patients, 265 (1.2%) had hemorrhagic complications. Patients taking antithrombotic therapy had increased bleeding risk relative to control patients (OR 2.63 [95% CI 1.90–3.63]; P < 0.001) and an increased but less clinically important risk difference (OR 0.02 [95% CI 0.01–0.03]; P < 0.001) with high heterogeneity. No difference was observed in hemorrhage rates among patients whose antithrombotic therapy was stopped vs continued (OR 1.16 [95% CI 0.73–1.83]; P = 0.54). No difference was seen in rates of thromboembolic events among patients taking antithrombotic therapy vs control patients. However, two serious thromboembolic events were noted in a cohort of 59 patients whose antithrombotic therapy was stopped. Because of potentially devastating effects of thromboembolic events, the current accepted practice is indicated for continuation of antithrombotic therapy for patients undergoing cutaneous surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Antithrombotic therapy
  • Cutaneous surgery
  • Mohs micrographic surgery
  • Postoperative complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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