Supplements and Plastic Surgery

Protein, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C can all help your wounds heal quickly and well.

Note: These are only general suggestions. Always follow your physician’s post-op pre and post instructions. Keep in mind that all of this should be discussed in detail with your surgeon, who can recommend the appropriate dosage and duration of your nutritive supplementation therapy. In addition to taking supplements, you can also eat a well-balanced diet to assist the body in preparing it for the extra energy it needs for recovery. Protein is the building block of healing and immunity/resistance to infection. Therefore, it’s usually recommended that you increase your protein intake to at least 80 grams per day, as your body’s demands to heal and rebuild tissue are greatly increased following a surgical procedure.

One of the easiest ways to prepare your body before and after plastic surgery is to drink plenty of water. Water is necessary because it aids digestion, ridding the body of toxins, wastes, and impurities, while preventing constipation and bloating. Pregnant women and women of child-bearing age should also use caution in taking any multivitamins and should discuss their individual supplementation requirements with their general practitioner.

Supplements recommended before and after surgery include: 

Arnica montana: This homeopathic preparation can help with bruising or soreness. It can be taken in pellet or tincture form beneath the tongue right before surgery and again once you’re awake in the recovery room. Continued use of arnica is recommended for about 2 weeks after surgery to reduce bruising and swelling. Arnica can also be found in a topical form. 

Bromelain: 500–1,000 mg per day, to help with swelling reduction, beginning a week before surgery and minimum of 2 weeks after surgery. Bromelain is clinically proven to reduce bruising and inflammation, promote wound healing, and act as an anti-thrombotic (blood clots) agent. 

Vitamin A: 10,000–25,000 immunizing units (IU) per day, beginning a week before surgery. This vitamin supports immune system functioning and aids collagen strength.

Vitamin C: 500–1,000 mg per day, beginning at least 1 week before surgery. Vitamin C is necessary to build and rebuild collagen throughout the body. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune response and speeds up surgical recovery. 

Omega-3 fatty acids: Pre-surgical use is controversial. Some studies have shown them to be very beneficial in increasing immune function, while others indicate that they may increase bleeding. It is best to wait 3-4 weeks until after your surgical procedure to start taking omega-3 so that you can avoid any unforeseen complications.

Perioperative zinc supplementation: 15-30 mg daily is recommended, with higher levels in patients who have conditions that promote zinc deficiency (risk factors such as malnutrition, malabsorption, or chronic diarrhea). Zinc is an important trace mineral for DNA synthesis, cell division, and protein synthesis. Zinc decreases inflammation during the healing phase, as it is used in enzymatic reactions involved in tissue and wound healing, regeneration, and repair.

High-potency vitamin supplements: These supplements aid in healing the body. Some of the vitamins known to assist in the healing process include vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. Remember that it’s best to avoid vitamin E prior to surgery because it can cause thinning of the blood, which can will make the body more susceptible to bruising. Other vitamins beneficial for the healing phase include vitamin K, which aids the natural blood-clotting response and is important for bone health. The B vitamins assist in cellular metabolism, tissue repair, and immune support. Topical vitamin E preparations, however, are used for scars post-operatively. Oral vitamin E should be discontinued for at least 2 weeks before surgery because it is associated with increased bleeding, and this can lead to collection of blood (called a hematoma), which could result in serious complications.

Juven Nutrition: Juven is targeted nutrition therapy with key nutrients to support wound healing when the regular diet isn’t enough. Juven is a therapeutic nutrition powder that supports wound healing and lean body mass by enhancing collagen formation and building lean body mass. It contains L-Arginine, L-Glutamine, Protein (Collagen), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Zinc. Clinically shown to support wound healing in as little as 2 weeks1,* and help build and maintain lean body mass in 4 weeks2.

Protein: Consume 60-80 grams of protein each day. Have protein-rich food at every meal. Protein helps repair tissues, which is exactly what you need when you’re healing from an injury or surgery.

Protein is important for the maintenance and repair of body tissue, and it’s vital for skin repair and immunity,” Krishnan notes. “Inadequate protein intake will impair collagen formation and slow down the wound healing process.”

Magnesium: Can help reduce postoperative pain and opioid consumption12. Magnesium regularizes heart rate, promotes circulation and Aids with post-surgical constipation, gassy feeling and bloating.

Serrapeptase and Nattokinase Proteolytic Enzyme: Help to heal post-surgical skin and reduces inflammation and leads to less scarring at the incision points and beneath the skin. The  enzymes serrapeptase and nattokinase have been shown to be effective in removing fibrous scar tissues. The use of proteolytic enzymes like trypsin, chymotrypsin, and bromelain came into practice in the United States during the 1950s after it was observed that they had anti-inflammatory effects.Serrapeptase is most commonly used for reducing inflammation — your body’s response to injury. Serrapeptase has been suggested to reduce infection rate and dissolve blood clots that could lead to a heart attack or stroke, but more research is needed. Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme, meaning it breaks down proteins into smaller components called amino acids. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, it may offer a host of other health benefits. However, it’s not recommended for people who already take blood-thinning medications.