Herbal supplements and homeopathic remedies are being used by increasing numbers of people, and often they confer health benefits. Some of these products, however, can affect a person’s normal ability to clot, and so are potentially harmful when recovering from surgery. In addition, they may also interact with other medications such as anaesthetic agents used during surgery. All of these factors may cause an increase in complications and may compromise patient safety during and after plastic surgery procedures. This may occur regardless of the type of procedure being performed, whether breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction, abdominoplasty, liposuction or minimally invasive plastic surgery.

In a recent study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, researchers examined a series of herbal supplements, combinations of herbs and herbal teas to evaluate their effect on post-operative bleeding. Some of the products studied, such as Chinese peony, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, oil of wintergreen and saw palmetto, have been shown to interfere with the normal clotting process and may result in a higher incidence of bleeding problems after aesthetic plastic surgery. Other herbal supplements, such as Vitamin E, have yet to be studied extensively enough to prove or disprove potential impairment of normal clotting. Although it is an anti-oxidant with beneficial health effects and anti-aging properties, it may cause post-operative bleeding problems in plastic surgery patients and should be discontinued perioperatively. This may also hold true for chondroitin and glucosamine, which have known anti-inflammatory effects and may prevent progression of arthritis.

Many plastic surgery patients who maintain a healthy lifestyle and incorporate nutritional and herbal supplements into their diets consider these to be “natural” and so may not be aware of their potential effects on recovering from surgery. It is very important for patients to disclose to their plastic surgeons all their medications, including herbal teas and supplements, and to follow their plastic surgeons’ advice and instructions regarding their plastic surgery procedure in order to ensure the best outcome.

Dr. Olivia Hutchinson, a female board certified aesthetic plastic surgeon, performs plastic surgery procedures in the safety and comfort of her AAAASF certified operating room in NYC. If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hutchinson, please contact us or call us at (212) 452-1400.

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