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Jon B. Turk, MD

Your Health Is What Matters Most

Proper nutrition is essential to fuel normal functioning of human anatomy, including beating of the heart and respiration of the lungs. Nutrient needs are altered when additional stress is placed on the body, including growth spurts, exercise, injuries, sickness, and pregnancy/lactation. Surgery is particularly stressful as incisions are created and the body works to heal its wounds. The best pre-operative nutrition will help the immune system fight against infection and prevent and treat excess blood loss. Research has demonstrated that optimal recovery, including the best possible results seen in the shortest time period, is achieved when particular dietary and supplement regimens are followed. Specific nutrients are needed to repair skin, blood vessels, nerves, and even muscles and bones. Read below to learn more.

Pre-Operative Nutrition

Your current dietary intake may not meet all of the recommended daily allowances for macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The pre-operative period (2 to 4 weeks prior to surgery) is a great time to ensure you are achieving your needs for a healthy lifestyle while also preparing for the upcoming stress of surgery. Below are a few nutrients that are vital during this time period.

Water: Water is the largest component of the human body, comprising 60 to 75% of each of us. It is essential for all of the body’s systems, including the skin, digestion, metabolism, and hormones. It maintains skin hydration, making it moist, plump, and free of blemishes. In digestion, it aids in ridding the body of toxins, waste, and impurities while maintaining regularity and preventing constipation and bloating (which can occur post-surgery due to body trauma and post-op pain medications). Drink a minimum of 64 ounces daily.

Protein: As the second largest component of the body, protein is required for tissue building and repair. Our organs, hormones, red blood cells, immune system, and enzymes are all comprised mainly of protein. Although most Americans get more than enough protein in their diets, it is imperative that you consume a sufficient amount to meet your daily needs (including exercise) and best prepare your body for surgery and post-op tissue repair.

Multivitamin: Since it can be difficult to eat a well-balanced varied diet each and every day, a highly potent multivitamin and mineral supplement will ensure that you are meeting all of your micronutrient needs. This will prepare the body for the upcoming tissue repair process.

Vitamin C: An antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables protects cells from environmental pollutants and toxins and prevents bruising. It also aids in collagen production and improves blood vessel dilation, which brings more blood and nutrients to damaged tissues for wound healing.

Zinc: Zinc is used for growth, tissue building and repair, and improved immunity. Take caution not to intake excess, as it can interfere with absorption of other minerals, including iron and copper.

Glutamine: Increased tissue concentrations of this amino acid during the pre-operative period will reduce healing time and aid in surgery recovery.

Arginine: This amino acid aids in infection prevention, immune function, and post-op tissue repair.

Coenzyme Q 10: Another antioxidant when, taken before surgery, results in quicker recovery after surgery.

Probiotics: Antibiotics are often given for cosmetic surgery. While they kill bad bacteria and prevent and/or treat infections, they can also wipe out the good bacteria of the gut. Regular intake of probiotics ensures good bacteria inhabit the gut and prevent nausea, gas, bloating, constipation, or discomfort that may occur as antibiotic side effects.

One Week Pre-Surgery

Directly before surgery, there are certain foods that may interfere with anesthesia, bleeding time, immune function, and healing time. These items should be avoided.

  • Vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, fish oils, and all herbal supplements should all be STOPPED 1 week pre-surgery (including your multivitamin).
  • Green tea, cayenne, ginkgo, garlic, ginger, flaxseed, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant may have a negative effect on anesthesia or bleeding time.
  • Foods high in refined sugar should be avoided as they can suppress immune function.
  • Either decrease your intake of fish high in Omega 3’s (blood thinners that can increase bleeding time), or balance it with lean red meat (has arachidonic acid which counteracts blood thinning).
  • Limit “neurotoxic” items including alcohol, caffeine, aspartame, and MSG.
  • Known or potentially allergenic foods should be reduced or eliminated. The top 8 allergens are: wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, milk, fish, and shellfish. (You may wish to start this regimen 2-4 weeks pre-op.)
  • Avoid aspirin and all other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Post-Operative Nutrition

The goal of proper post-surgery nutrition is to promote quick healing and recovery with the assistance of a well-supported immune system, while reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling. Pre-op supplement regimens (as listed above or directed by your Doctor or Nutritionist) may be resumed, while sugar, allergenic foods, caffeine, and alcohol should continue to be avoided. In addition, the below items can be added to improve recovery outcomes.

  • Diet: The foods you eat 72 hours post-op should be bland, soft, and easy to chew and digest. It is recommended for the first week after surgery, the One Week Pre-Surgery protocol be followed.
  • Anti-inflammatory Foods: Add foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocado, tart/sour cherries, and blueberries. Avoid foods that increase inflammation, including saturated and trans fats (found in fried and processed foods) and refined sugars.
  • Supplements: Make sure to continue with Zinc, Glutamine, Arginine, Coenzyme Q10, and Probiotics. Wait 72 hours before resuming Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, B vitamins, fish oils, and a Multivitamin.
  • Bromelain: This anti-inflammatory proteolytic enzyme has been shown to dramatically reduce post-op swelling and bruising. Take 200-400 mg tablets on an empty stomach 2-3 times daily, and continue for 1 week post-surgery.
  • Arnica Montana: This anti-inflammatory herb acts by dilating capillaries, facilitating blood flow to the injured tissue to reduce swelling and pain. Take 5 of the #30C Pellets 3 times daily, starting 3 days before surgery, or every 2-4 hours for the first 48 hours. Continue for 1 week post-surgery.
  • Grape Seed Extract: Studies have shown that this supplement helps decrease recovery time by assisting Vitamin C’s entrance into cells, which improves cell membrane strength. It also decreases swelling and scarring.

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