Cutaneous surgery in patients on warfarin therapy

Ann Plast Surg. 2009 Mar;62(3):275-7. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e31817d822f.


Warfarin is a commonly used anticoagulant for patients with prosthetic heart valves, atrial fibrillation, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary emboli to prevent thromboembolic events. There is no clear consensus regarding the perioperative management of warfarin therapy for plastic surgery procedures. Our objective is to evaluate the safety and quantify any increased morbidity in patients on warfarin therapy, undergoing soft tissue surgery. In a retrospective chart review of prospectively collected data, patients undergoing cutaneous surgery on warfarin therapy from 2000 to 2006 were identified. Perioperative complications were evaluated, including major hemorrhage, incisional bleeding, hematoma, wound or flap complications, graft success, and cosmetic surgical outcome. A total of 26 anticoagulated patients who underwent 56 procedures were included. Intraoperative bleeding was controlled in all cases without difficulty. Minor postoperative bleeding was noted in 1 patient, and this was easily controlled with gentle pressure. All wounds healed without complication, including 2 split thickness skin grafts. The cosmesis of all scars was acceptable. Anticoagulation with warfarin can be safely continued in patients undergoing minor soft tissue procedures, thereby avoiding the risk of potentially devastating thromboembolic events.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / chemically induced*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Warfarin / adverse effects*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin