Oral benzodiazepines (BZDs) are useful tools for periprocedural anxiolysis. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a black-box warning of their risks of abuse and dependence. We performed a systematic review evaluating the safety and efficacy of oral BZDs for periprocedural anxiolysis in outpatient dermatologic, plastic surgery, dental, and ophthalmologic procedures performed under local anesthesia.
A systematic review of 5 databases was performed in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Oral benzodiazepine safety and efficacy data were extracted from eligible articles.
A total of 43 articles and 4,060 subjects were included. Oral BZDs consistently imparted a positive anxiolytic effect and demonstrated superior or equivalent scores in patient satisfaction, surgeon satisfaction, pain, and anxiety to comparator groups in most studies. Thirty-five subjects experienced transient hypoxia, and 2 experienced transient hypertension. A total of 195 mild, self-limited adverse effects were reported. None of the studies addressed the risks of abuse and dependence in this clinical setting.
Short-term use of oral BZDs for periprocedural anxiolysis seems to be safe and effective. The 2020 FDA black-box warning should not deter their appropriate use in dermatologic surgery and other low-risk outpatient procedures.

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