With any cosmetic procedure that involves surgery, there is bound to be a recovery time. It could be a few days or a few weeks. While taking some time to recoup after the procedure is necessary, there are ways to speed up the healing time. “It is the swelling and bruising that can lengthen the healing time and delay getting back to regular activities and work,” says Palo Alto, CA facial plastic surgeon Jill L. Hessler, MD. After getting the go-ahead from your surgeon, stock up on these supplements ahead of your next surgery to speed up your recovery post-op.
Arnica is arguably one of the most popular ingredients doctors recommend taking post-op. Originally from the mountain regions in Western Europe, the arnica montana plant is an excellent natural solution to reducing bruising, swelling and pain, says Tucson, AZ plastic surgeon Raman Mahabir, MD. Dr. Hessler also recommends patients use this homeopathic agent following surgery.
“We like patients to take this for a few days before and a few days after surgery,” explains Dr. Mahabir. He recommends VitaMedica 30X HPUS Arnica ($18). “It takes away the guessing on which brand and potency to buy and comes in a convenient sublingual tablet that dissolves quickly under the tongue without leaving a chalky taste in your mouth.”
Quercetin plays well with others and is often coupled with arnica. Dr. Mahabir also suggests pairing quercetin with bromelain. “One of the best options to minimize swelling and inflammation after surgery is bromelain combined with quercetin,” he says, explaining quercetin is an antioxidant bioflavonoid. “This synergistic (1+1=3) combination helps to balance the natural inflammatory response.”
Bromelain is a commonly suggested supplement post-surgery. It’s “an anti-inflammatory extracted from the stem of the pineapple,” explains Dr. Mahabir. Since it’s often paired with arnica, Dr. Hessler suggests the VitaMedica Arnica + Bromelain Blister Pack ($33), which includes both.
Vitamins are often a double-edged sword when it comes to post-op, says Dr. Mahabir. “There are several supplements that need to be avoided in and around surgery. Vitamin E, for example, can interfere with wound healing, and others can increase the risk of bleeding,” he warns. This is why it’s essential to discuss any vitamins you plan to take with your surgeon before you take them.
While you can take a pill for each of the necessary vitamins, why not just take them all in one shot? Dr. Mahabir says Vitamedica Clinical Support Program ($48) is well-researched, safe and effective. “It includes vitamins A and C, Zn, B-complex and antioxidants,” says Dr. Mahabir. “These combine to support healthy cell growth, collagen formation, immune system function and moderate stress. With their morning and evening formulas, they also enhance wakefulness during the day and better quality sleep—all critical aspects to recovery.”
According to Houston plastic surgeon Henry Mentz, MD, “Sometimes, a pre-op diet will impact bruising. For example, a patient who loves tomatoes or takes fish oil will have more intense bruising. Meanwhile, “Patients who prepare with green vegetables like kale and spinach, which are heavy in vitamin K, will have less bruising.”
Patients often have to take antibiotics around the time of surgery, which can interfere with the digestive system. “Taking a quality probiotic may help to encourage intestinal balance, support immune function digestion and regularity and promote the absorption of nutrients and vitamins,” says Dr. Mahabir.
Baton Rouge, LA plastic surgeon John V. Williams, MD says he likes the organic and vegan 310 Meal Replacement Shake ($40). It has “a protein blend with probiotics, adequate calories without sugar and sweeteners and all of the vitamins and minerals needed to promote and help aid healing in the post-op period,” says Dr. Williams. “It’s also easy to make!”
Collagen boosting supplements
La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD says anything that can be done to speed up wound healing is worthwhile after surgery. He likes using Juven Therapeutic Nutrition Powder ($81) in his practice “because it has been clinically proven to speed up the rate of incision and wound healing in as little as two weeks.” He adds that “not only does it promote internal collagen production by 67 percent, but it also offers a boost of antioxidants and amino acids. It has been published in over 40 clinical trials, so you can be assured of its safety and foundation in science.”
Want all of these in one bundle?
If you want to have a one-stop shop experience with your pre and post-op supplement regimen, Dr. Mentz recommends VitaMedica Recovery Support Program ($114). “This comprehensive set has morning and night vitamins that are safe for anesthesia and encourage healing. The pre-op set comes with bromelain, quercetin and arnica montana, which all reduce bruising,” he says. “The antioxidants and vitamin B within the pill deactivate free radicals and improve energy for healing without interfering with anesthesia medicines while the night vitamins promote rest.”