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Cosmetic Surgery Plastic Surgery

Are Herbal Supplements Smart after Surgery?

Herbal Supplements

Visit any forum on plastic surgery, and you’re sure to hear patients encouraging each other to use certain herbal supplements to promote better healing after their procedure. How valid are these claims, and do most  board certified plastic surgeons recommend taking non-prescription aids or applying topical creams during recovery?

Benefits of Supplements

There are two supplements that are often mentioned for patients to use following plastic surgery:

  • Arnica – Arnica is purported to relieve swelling and prevent bleeding when applied topically, plus decrease inflammation and prevent muscle soreness (for example, if taken before a vigorous workout). This herb can also be taken orally.
  • Bromelain – Extracted from pineapple enzymes, this supplement is supposed to help prevent post-operative blood clots, decrease pain and inflammation and even help improve digestion and liver function.

These two herbs are often taken together. In fact, a product called Bruise-Stick™ is a topical application that combines both arnica and bromelain.

Anecdotal Strength

Herbal supplements are not only peer-recommended, but some surgeons may also steer their patients toward these treatments. While this may seem like a strong endorsement in and of itself, it’s important to remember a few key details to keep in mind before rushing to the health food store:

  • Herbal medications are not standardized or regulated in the United States.
  • There have been no double-blind clinical trials proving the efficacy of these supplements.
  • Non-regulated supplements may react in unexpected ways with prescribed medications, so you should always let your doctor and pharmacist know your medication regimen.

As always, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding any aspect of your recovery, and that includes whether to stock up on arnica or bromelain before your procedure.

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June 11, 2014
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