A meta-analysis of pre- and postoperative corticosteroids for reducing the complications following facial reconstructive and aesthetic surgery

Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2022 Jan-Feb;88(1):63-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bjorl.2020.05.015. Epub 2020 Jun 20.


Introduction: Edema and ecchymosis after facial plastic surgery are a troublesome concern for both patients and surgeons. Corticosteroid administration is thought to shorten the recovery period and reduce these sequelae. Data regarding the efficacy of corticosteroid administration remains controversial among surgeons.

Objective: We conducted this systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the effect of pre- and postoperative corticosteroids on postoperative complications in patients undergoing facial reconstructive surgery supported with different subgroup analysis.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search of articles was conducted in PubMed, Cochrane Central, SCOPUS, and EBSCO through October 2019. We included all clinical trials in which patients underwent any type of facial plastic surgery to study the effect of corticosteroids on postoperative complications. We performed subgroup analysis according to the types and doses of corticosteroid preparation, in addition to a subgroup analysis of pre- or postoperative corticosteroid usage. All statistical analysis was performed using the RevMan software.

Results: Nineteen studies were included in this systematic review, but only 10 of them were eligible for meta-analysis. The periorbital edema and ecchymosis scores were significantly reduced in the corticosteroids group compared to placebo -0.82, 95% CI (-1.37, -0.26), and -0.95, 95% CI (-1.32, -0.57), respectively. However, these significant differences were not maintained at day 3 and 7. Smaller doses of corticosteroid (8 mg and 10 mg) were associated with smaller differences in the mean score of upper and lower eyelid edema and ecchymosis, while the higher doses were associated with greater differences. Furthermore, preoperative corticosteroid usage significantly reduced the intraoperative bleeding when compared to placebo for higher doses > 50 mg per day (p < 0.0001), but not for 8 mg corticosteroid (p = 0.06). Adding postoperative steroid dose to the preoperative one was associated with less edema and ecchymosis than preoperative administration alone.

Conclusion: This comprehensive meta-analysis confirms a statistically significant benefit of preoperative corticosteroids. Furthermore, continuing the steroids postoperatively is associated with long-term reduction of complications. Higher doses of corticosteroids are associated with a more significant reduction in edema and ecchymosis, but further studies are recommended to determine the postoperative side effects, including surgical site infection and delayed healing.

Keywords: Corticosteroid; Ecchymosis; Edema; Facial plastic surgery; Rhinoplasty.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Ecchymosis / etiology
  • Ecchymosis / prevention & control
  • Edema / etiology
  • Edema / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Rhinoplasty*
  • Surgery, Plastic*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones