Are Herbal Supplements Safe to Take After Plastic Surgery?

The following blog is an adapted version of Southern Plastic Surgery intern David Gibson’s research findings:

More and more Americans are turning to herbals or alternative medicines for the management of various ailments.  This rings true for plastic surgery patients too. Up to 55% of plastic surgery patients take some kind of herbal medication on a regular basis.  Herbal medications can provide a benefit to a patient by either helping treat a disease or speed recovery after surgery.  However, due to the laws that are currently in place, there is no government regulation of herbal medications.

The FDA supervises which pharmaceutical medications are allowed on the market.  These drugs have to go through several trials to ensure that they are safe and effective for what they claim to treat.  Herbal medications, on the other hand, do not have to go through this process.   If you remember, Ephedra, which was a common weight loss medication, was taken off the market due to dangerous side effects.

It is important that you inform your plastic surgeon of all medications that you take on a regular basis, as there are certain types of medications that should be discontinued prior to plastic surgery as they can cause adverse drug interactions with common post-surgery prescriptions (i.e.- antibiotics and pain relievers.)  For instance, the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) states that St. Johns Wort prolongs the effects of Coumadin, digoxin, and lidocaine in the body, and can lead to serious bleeding and heart palpitations if not monitored.

According to the National Institute of Health’s NCCAM, the following herbals and vitamins may help reduce surgical recovery time: arnica montana, bromelain, garlic, ginseng, vitamin C (60mg to a max of 200mg a day, used to help synthesis of collagen), vitamin B12 and folic acid (to help with anemia, which can reduce delivery of oxygen to tissues). Vitamin E and Echinacea should not be taken during your recovery. Vitamin E and Echinacea inhibit collagen synthesis, which slows healing.

While some herbal medications can help with plastic surgery recovery, some can do more harm than good and create additional issues.  For more information on medication interferences and cosmetic surgery, visit our website, continue to read our blog, or contact the office.