FIRST QUARTER 2000, VOLUME 14, NO 1

Dietary supplements can affect surgery

IN THIS ISSUE

Weight change and facial plastic surgery

Sculpting the contour of the face with facial plastic surgery

Ask the Surgeon / Health Tip / What’s New

Dietary supplements can affect surgery

Do you take nutritional supplements? If so, be sure to discuss everything you are taking with your facial plastic surgeon well in advance of surgery.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than half of Americans take dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, and metabolites. Because these substances are considered natural, many people do not think of them as drugs. However, natural substances do affect the body, and your surgeon needs to know exactly what you are taking.

Herbal supplements are real medicine
Many people don’t discuss nutritional supplements with their doctor, thinking it doesn’t matter or that their doctor won’t approve. Not doing so before surgery, however, may place you at risk. Many herbal substances including St. John’s wort, yohimbe, and melatonin intensify the effects of anesthesia. Others such as gingko biloba, vitamin E, and selenium may increase bleeding. Ginseng causes high blood pressure or rapid heartbeat in some individuals, and ginger, garlic, and cayenne reduce platelet activity and delay clotting time.

Unlike prescription drugs, natural supplements do not need FDA approval, nor are there any established standards to ensure their purity and safety.

Let the buyer beware
Many supplements are beneficial, but consumers must be aware of their potential risks and benefits. Because manufacturers are not required to guarantee the purity of their products, buy only from companies with an excellent reputation. Never take herbals while using a prescription medication without first discussing it with your doctor; many natural supplements may interact with prescription drugs, nullifying their effect or causing unpleasant side effects.

Some supplements may speed healing
Many natural products can be helpful when taken before or after surgery. Some facial plastic surgeons recommend nutritional supplements that help reduce bruising and swelling. Vitamin K, taken before surgery, can help speed clotting time. Vitamins C and E may be recommended after surgery to speed healing. In some cases, suspending use of a supplement for a few weeks before surgery can help obtain the best results.