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The body can take quite some time to heal after a surgical operation. However, some supplements are recommended prior to plastic surgery procedures because they have been shown to increase wound healing, build new collagen, and decrease inflammation and swelling. These should be continued post-operatively for another couple of weeks. While several vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are used during healing, there are specific vitamins and minerals that are known to specifically support the normal response to healing and assist in the function of the normal immune system response to infection.

Supplements recommended before and after surgery include:


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.


Bromelain:
500–1,000 mg per day, beginning a week before surgery


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 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.


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.


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.

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.

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Dr. Cory Torgerson (MD, PhD, FRCSC)
Dr. Cory Torgerson (MD, PhD, FRCSC)
Dr. Cory Torgerson is one of Canada’s most talented and prominent facial plastic surgeons, focusing on head & neck facial surgery. Dr. Torgerson has been frequently invited to teach and lecture on these topics across North America. He has hospital privileges at Sunnybrook Hospital, one of the premier hospitals in the University of Toronto Health Network.

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