Preparing for Plastic Surgery

Once you’ve made the decision (and the appointment) there are some definite milestones you’ll want to keep in mind when you prepare for plastic surgery.  There are medicines to take, medicines to avoid, habits to stop, habits you can start, and household matters to get in line.  If you start planning from about a month out, by the time you have your surgery you should be in a position to recover very well.  The surgeon you carefully researched will certainly have a plan of action you should follow – what is below is a general guideline.

To help you get ready for your plastic surgery, the following timeline is offered.  After the timeline is a more detailed discussion about some of the subject matter.  At the end of the article is a link to a downloadable checklist you can hang on your fridge. Always consult with your surgeon or your patient counselor to ensure you are following their instructions – their instructions trump this checklist.  Ready?

Prepare for Plastic Surgery - checklistYour Schedule to Prepare for your Plastic Surgery

  • 4 weeks prior to your plastic surgery

    • Some surgeons will require that you have a physical – this can be completed by your own physician.  Your plastic surgeon will want to see the results
  • 3 weeks prior to your plastic surgery

    • Stop smoking and drinking
    • Consult with your surgeon or patient counselor about any medications you are currently taking
    • Stock your kitchen with lots of fruits, vegetables and protein based foods
    • Start identifying and avoiding foods that contain salicylates (list below)
    • Start planning your recovery area and stocking up on books to ready, movies to binge watch, Hulu shows to watch, knitting to do, etc.
  • 2 weeks prior to your plastic surgery

    • Check your medications again.  What was acceptable last week may not be acceptable this week or in the next two weeks.  Talk with your surgeon or patient counselor about this again
    • Start taking a daily multi-vitamin and specific vitamins recommended by your surgeon or patient counselor.  Normal recommendations are for Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Bromelain, all twice daily
    • Stop taking Vitamin E in large doses.  The amount in the multi-vitamins are acceptable but you should not be taking Vitamin E pills.Plastic Surgery Recovery - Vitamins
    • Talk to your doctor about any herbal supplements you are taking to uncover any possible problem areas
    • Stop taking any medicine that contains aspirin
    • Stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis – consult with your physician before doing so
    • Stop taking anti-coagulants
  • 1 week prior to your plastic surgery

    • Reduce sodium intake.  1,200 – 1,500 mg daily is a good target
    • Eat lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts and high protein meals
    • Drink lots of water
    • Get your prescriptions filled – you will not want to try to do this after the surgery
    • Ensure you have somebody to drive you to and from your surgery
    • Finish work on your recovery area
    • Get lots of rest and focus on good nutrition
  • 2 days prior to your plastic surgery

    • Begin taking Arnica Montana every 8 hours for 10 days (as directed)
    • Continue taking Bromelain every 12 hours between meals (as directed)
    • Ensure you have a ride set up to get you to and from your procedure
    • Set up your recovery area with reading material, tv, gauze, peroxide, bacitracin, water and other drinks, medicine, pillows, surgeon and pharmacy phone numbers
    • This is a great time to re-use your old pajamas since there may be some oozing from the surgical incision sites.
    • Move essentials from high or low shelves to where you can reach them more easily.  For the first week or two, you will not want to be stretching to get anything
    • If you have pets that will need walking, ensure this is set up
  • Day prior to your plastic surgery

    • Get a good night’s rest
    • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before
    • Check one more time to ensure your ride to and from your surgery is locked on

Foods to avoid and foods that are OK to eat before your plastic surgery

Salicylate is a chemical found in many foods and it is also the chemical that is in aspirin.  We all know aspirin is a blood thinner and that we should not take it before or after surgery but foods that contain salicylates should be avoided as well.  Below is a list of foods to avoid and some that are OK:

  • Beverages
    • Avoid: beer, birch beer, root beer, carbonated drinks, distilled drinks, tea, wine
    • OK: cereal drinks, coffee, fruit juices (made from fruit on the OK list below), milk (any kind)
  • Breads and Starches
    • Avoid: potatoes
    • OK: breads and cereals, popcorn, pasta, peas, rice, rolls, croissants, bagels
  • Desserts and Sweets
    • Avoid: mint or wintergreen products, pies and cakes made with fruits
    • OK: homemade cakes and cookies made without the avoided fruits (listed below)
  • Fats
    • Avoid: almonds, peanuts, avocados, mayonnaise, olives, olive oil, salad dressings
    • OK: butter, margarine, cashews, pecans, vegetable oils
  • Fruits
    • Avoid: apples, apple cider, apricots, berries (most of them), cherries, currants, dates, grapes, raisins, melon (all kinds), pineapple, oranges, nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes, pomegranatesPlastic Surgery Recovery - Fruits and Vegetables
    • OK: bananas, blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit, lemons, mangos, papayas, pears, rhubarb, strawberries, tangerines
  • Vegetables
    • Avoid: canned mushrooms, cucumbers, green peppers, radishes, tabasco peppers, tomatoes
    • OK: asparagus, carrots, fresh mushrooms, green beans, wax beans, greens, lettuce, spinach, squash
  • Miscellaneous
    • Avoid: cloves, pickles, mint
    • OK: chocolate (yay!), cocoa, salt, pepper, some spices, sugar, syrup, vinegar

Vitamins to avoid and vitamins that are OK to take before your plastic surgery

  • Avoid:
    • Vitamin E – since Vitamin E is associated with increased bleeding, it and surgery almost never mix well.  Your surgeon will most likely recommend you stop taking any Vitamin E supplements you are currently taking although the Vitamin E in your multi-vitamin is probably acceptable. Do not confuse this with using Vitamin E topical lotions or gels as these are used post-operative to help scars heal.
    • Many herbal supplements can have the same effect as Vitamin E in that they can cause bleeding or other complications.  Talk to your doctor but the usual recommendations are to avoid Ginko Biloba, Garlic, Ginseng, Ginger, Gond Quai, Ephedra, Feverfew, St. John’s Wort, and Omega 3 fatty acids.  Again, talk to your surgeon or patient representative for a comprehensive list and more detail.
  • OK:
    • Vitamin A – taken in too large of a dose, this can cause several maladies you’d rather not deal with right now.  Be sure to get a recommendation from your surgeon or patient representative for this.  Vitamin A is important to the healing process as it plays an important role in collagen production and formation as well as aiding in protection against bacterial and viral infections.
    • Vitamin C – you’ll want to take this prior to your surgery as the surgery itself will deplete your body’s vitamin C stores.  Taking it before and after the surgery significantly speed your healing time.  Also, Vitamin C is a is an essential element in collagen production which is important for healing wounds of any type.
    • Bromelain – used to reduce swelling.  Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple juice and the pineapple stem.  When used as medicine, it fights pain, reduces swelling and has even been shown to contain chemicals that interfere with the growth of tumor cells.  Your surgeon or patient counselor may recommend a steady dose of Bromelain prior to your surgery.
    • Arnica Montana – used to soothe aches, reduce inflammations and promote healing.  Arnica is available as an ointment or gel and is made from the Arnica Montana plant found in the mountainous regions of Europe and southern Russia. Arnica is topical only and should not be ingested as the plant is poisonous.

Download  the Plastic Surgery Preparation Checklist here

There are two items in above list that many prospective patients typically like a little more information on, so let’s go into a bit more detail on them (and then give you two very good links to do a bit more research):

  • Why should I stop smoking before my Plastic Surgery?  

    • The negative effects of smoking on just about every part of your body is well documented but critically, as it pertains to Plastic Surgery, smoking compromises the healing process by inhibiting or restricting blood flow.  During a plastic surgery, tissue is cut and moved to improve appearance and/or function.  When the tissue is moved, blood vessels are cut by the surgeon intentionally but done so with expertise and experience so that healing can occur.  In a smoker, however, that tissue may not get the necessary blood flow to heal appropriately, sometimes resulting in the destruction of the tissue and even leading to necrosis.  Summary – blood flow is critical to healing after Plastic Surgery and smoking hampers that healing. Stop smoking!
      • Also, it’s important that this “stop smoking” typically extends for 2 or more weeks after the surgery as well, so that’s a month of no smoking.  Might be a good time to stop smoking altogether.
    • Best link I’ve found on this subject is here
  • Why should I stop drinking before my Plastic Surgery

    • There are a couple of reasons, one is very obvious but the others are less so.
      • Alcohol thins your blood – we all know this.  During surgery, and the recovery process, it’s important that your blood is as close to normal as possible.  The process itself, of course, involves cutting and moving skin, tissue, and sometimes muscle – this all results in bleeding.  If your blood is thinner then normal, or thinner than expected, the surgeon may have harder time stopping unexpected bleeding.  For this reason alone, most surgeons will simply refuse to work on a patient who has not followed their instructions in this matter.
      • Alcohol also causes your skin to dry out and this is an obvious problem for plastic surgery as well as the recovery period.  Dry skin is harder for the surgeon to work on, harder to staple, harder to stitch and more likely to form visible scars.  The recovery process is also compromised as the dry skin just won’t heal as well.
      • There are many other reasons to stop drinking before and after your Plastic Surgery in accordance with your surgeon’s directions.  One of the best links I’ve found on this matter is here.

Much of the information for this article was found on the following excellent websites – make sure to visit them!

  • VitaMedica – this site has an excellent explanation of additional supplements to avoid, and a pretty cool and useful infographic
  • Pacific Plastic Surgery Group – great information on various aspects of preparing for plastic surgery such as smoking/drinking, sodium intake and vitamin information
  • UCLA Health – as you would expect, the UCLA site is a goldmine of information on just about every aspect of plastic surgery or anything medical related
  • Cosmetic Surgery Center – Virginia Beach – this is a great site not only for their “cosmetic surgery preparation” page, but for other resources they offer as well
  • Tavallali Plastic Surgery – this site has some additional useful information on setting up your recovery area
  • Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery – this site goes into great detail about the process itself, how you should dress, how you should recovery, etc.  Very good info here
  • David B. Reach MD – this site has a great explanation and list of vitamins and herbal supplements to use or avoid.  Also, a great plastic surgery planner