Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin and Postoperative Bleeding in Rhytidectomy

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Postoperative bleeding and hematoma are unwanted complications, especially for face lifts, where the rate of hematoma is reported to be high. The authors investigated the rate of complications. As expected, the major adverse event was postoperative bleeding, requiring surgical evacuation of hematoma in 5.6 percent of cases. Plastic surgeons in Europe are currently under pressure to use low-molecular-weight heparin in every face lift patient because of the guidelines of the European Consensus Conference for Prophylaxis of Thromboembolism.


Over a period of 1.5 years, a total of 126 patients took part in a retrospective, controlled trial on postoperative bleeding, with two comparative groups. Thirty-seven patients had received low-molecular-weight heparin; in 89 patients, no heparin thrombosis prophylaxis was used. The standard for each of the 126 rhytidectomy patients operated on was as follows: one surgeon, use of compression stockings, analgosedation, and mobilization of the patient on the day of operation.


The authors observed a 16.2 percent rate of postoperative bleeding in the low-molecular-weight heparin-group, compared with 1.1 percent in the group where no low-molecular-weight heparin was used. This was highly significant, especially when the Fisher's exact test was applied (p < 0.003). In 89 patients, when using compression stockings, analgosedation, and mobilization of the patient on the day of operation, the authors observed had no symptomatic thrombosis or pulmonary embolism if not using low-molecular-weight heparin.


The authors conclude that the rate of postoperative bleeding in face lifts under the use of low-molecular-weight heparin is higher than generally expected. As no symptomatic thrombosis or embolism without using low-molecular-weight heparin occurred, it seems that the use of low-molecular-weight heparin in face lifts is not categorically necessary in low-risk patients.

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