Ibuprofen does not increase bleeding after plastic surgery, study says

Although doctors have avoided using it for pain after surgery, a review of previous studies showed ibuprofen and other NSAIDs do not increase the risk for bleeding.

By Stephen Feller

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 31 (UPI) -- Although doctors are cautious about the use of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, for plastic surgery patients because of the risk of bleeding, a recent study shows the concern may be overblown.

Researchers found in a review of previous studies that ibuprofen use for pain after plastic surgery does not increase the risk for bleeding, suggesting it is as viable an option to control post-surgical pain as other treatments.


While bleeding is a big concern for plastic surgeons, the non-use of NSAIDs has been held aside from patients because of its effects on blood platelets, which play a key role in clotting.

For the study, published in the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the researchers analyzed four randomized controlled trials with a total of 443 patients between them assigned either ibuprofen, acetaminophen, acetaminophen plus codeine or the NSAID ketorolac to control pain after plastic surgery.

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Patients -- who underwent cosmetic facial surgery, breast cancer surgery, hernia repair or skin cancer surgery and reconstruction -- started taking ibuprofen either before or immediately after surgery, continuing for at least a week afterward.


Of patients given ibuprofen, 3.5 percent had surgically significant postoperative bleeding, as compared to 4.1 percent of patients given another painkiller, which the researchers say is not significant.

On top of the efficacy and low cost of over-the-counter NSAIDs, the researchers note ibuprofen's efficacy with this type of patient is significant because of the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers, eliminating another risk of surgery.

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"Over the counter analgesics like ibuprofen are more cost effective given their effectiveness in pain control, well-established public tolerance, and low-risk qualities for abuse," researchers wrote in the study.

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