If you have decided to take the plunge and book your cosmetic procedure, you’ll no doubt be looking forward to your surgery date with a mixture of excitement and nerves!
You may well be wondering if there’s anything you can do to make sure you’re in good shape for undergoing surgery, or if there are any vitamins or supplements you can take to aid the healing process post-operatively.
In addition to eating well, exercising and getting enough rest, there are a number of complementary medicines and vitamins you can take to help prepare your body. There are also some that you should avoid.
Here are Ocean Clinic Marbella’s top 8 actions you can take to ensure you’re in tip-top condition before surgery, and speed up your recovery after.
1) Stop Smoking
For better healing, avoid smoking in the weeks before surgery. The nicotine found in cigarettes increases the level of a pituitary hormone called vasopressin, which causes tightened blood vessels. This leads to decreased blood flow and results in poorer and more prolonged healing.
Of course, if you have undergone surgery with the aim of looking younger, you should stay off the cigarettes for good, because many studies have proven that smoking exacerbates the formation of wrinkles.
2) Use Arnica
Although science is yet to definitively prove the effectiveness of arnica, a herbal remedy, many people believe it can reduce bruising.
You can start taking arnica pills 48 hours before surgery, and continue taking them for 7-10 days. In many patients, this herb appears to lighten dark bruising, especially after rhinoplasty or blepharoplasty, and makes it easier to use concealer and resume normal social activities. You may also apply arnica topically as a cream.
3) Start taking vitamin C and zinc
Vitamin C is important for the formation of collagen (i.e. healing tissues) and will speed up wound repair. Studies also indicate that vitamin C helps prevent surgical shock.
Take 1,000-1,500 mg for three days before surgery and, because surgery depletes your body of vitamin C, up the dosage to 2,000-2,500 mg for two weeks after.
Zinc also plays a major role in wound healing, so increase your zinc intake to 30–50 mg for two weeks before and two weeks after surgery.
Starting three days after surgery, you can also begin taking 250 mg of vitamin B6 twice a day. Use it for a week to reduce post-surgical fluid retention that can cause swelling.
4) Stop taking vitamin E
You should stop taking vitamin E around two weeks prior to surgery. This is because it is a blood thinner. Thin blood can lead to increased bleeding during surgery and impair healing afterward. If you’re taking multivitamins, check the label to see if they contain vitamin E and discontinue use if it’s a high dosage.
Other minerals and supplements that may affect bleeding and should be avoided include fish oil, dong quai, feverfew, cayenne, flaxseed oil, niacin, bilberry fruit, ginseng and ginko biloba.
5) Don’t pop painkillers (or diet pills)
If you have an ache or pain in the run up to your surgery don’t reach for the aspirin or ibuprofen because they may inhibit blood clotting and cause extra blood loss during and after surgery.
Avoid any medications containing aspirin or ibuprofen for 10 days before your procedure. Many medications for colds, flu, headaches and other ailments contain aspirin, so it’s important to read the label. If you need a painkiller, choose paracetamol or one that’s paracetamol-based.
Diet pills commonly contain ephedra, which helps control appetite, however it can also interfere with blood pressure and heart functions so should be avoided for at least 48 hours before surgery.
6) Try a bromelain supplement
Like arnica, bromelain is a natural substance believed to speed up the surgical recovery process., a digestive enzyme, is derived from the stems of the pineapple plant and is thought to reduce inflammation and swelling.
It should be taken twice a day, on an empty stomach, for 3 days prior to surgery, and continued for 7 days following surgery. Bromelain can also be taken in conjunction with arnica.
7) Avoid cooking with garlic and ginger
Garlic and ginger are another two things to be avoided before surgery because they also have blood-thinning properties and are associated with cardiovascular risk.
Used as seasoning in small amounts they are fine, but you should stay away from consuming food or drink rich in garlic or ginger, such as garlic prawns or fresh ginger tea. You should also discontinue taking any garlic or ginger supplements.
8) Give up these herbal supplements
Many commonly taken herbal remedies or natural supplements can actually be potentially dangerous for those undergoing surgery. It is vital you tell your surgeon about anything you have been taking (not just prescription medications).
For example, Kava, St. John's wort and Valerian root have a sedating effect that can prolong the effects of anesthesia.
Meanwhile, supplements that can interact with other drugs and pose a potential risk include echinacea, goldenseal, licorice, Kava, Valerian and St John's wort.
In addition, St. John's wort and dong quai increase photosensitivity, which can be especially problematic for patients having laser skin procedures.
Because there are so many different types of supplements available, and not enough research has been conducted regarding their safety when it comes to undergoing surgery, the best advice is to quit all herbal supplements two weeks prior to your procedure.