Is Ketorolac Safe to Use in Plastic Surgery? A Critical Review

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Ketorolac tromethamine is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that provides postoperative pain control and reduces narcotic requirements. However, concerns regarding postoperative hematoma have limited its use in plastic surgery.


Our goal is to critically review the risk of bleeding with ketorolac in plastic surgery patients, with a focus on aesthetic surgery.


A PubMed/Medline literature search of clinical trials using the keywords “surgery” and “NSAID” yielded 2574 results. Of these results, 1036 included ketorolac and twelve involved plastic surgery patients. Six studies reported postoperative hematoma rates: three prospective randomized trials, two retrospective reviews, and one case series. These were subjected to statistical analysis to determine if an association existed between ketorolac and postoperative hematomas.


Six papers reported 981 cases. Ketorolac use resulted in similar hematoma rates when compared to control groups, 2.5% (12 of 483) versus 2.4% (12 of 498), respectively (P = .79). There were no reported hematomas associated with ketorolac in over 115 patients undergoing aesthetic facial procedures. Hematoma rates of those undergoing aesthetic breast surgery, including reduction and augmentation mammoplasties, were 4.3% (11 of 257) in the ketorolac group versus 2.2% (6 of 277) in controls (P = .59). Reduction in postoperative narcotic use and improved pain scores was also reported.


Our literature review did not find a significant association between hematoma formation and ketorolac use in a variety of plastic surgery procedures. These findings are similar to those in other surgical subspecialties.

Level of Evidence: 3


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