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If you want to recover quickly after surgery, you should do these 7 things!

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While plastic surgery procedures vary in complexity and anticipated recovery times, it is pretty widely known that everyone is ultimately looking to heal faster and minimize downtime after a procedure. It is important to consider these 7 things you can do to ensure a fast recovery.  It is vital that you plan ahead so that there are no surprises while you are recovering after surgery. In conjunction with proper sleeping habits, the food you eat can heavily influence your recovery as good nutritional choices can promote faster wound healing and return to activity.  Facial surgery in particular, such as rhinoplasty, has more obvious social downtime associated with it and an optimized recovery is always welcomed!

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Proper hydration is very important in terms of daily nutrition, and even more so when recovering from surgery. Adequate water intake flushes impurities (including surgery drugs) out of your system, stabilizes your metabolism, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Leading up to your surgery date, increase your water consumption to 8-10 glasses of water per day, and gradually work your way back up to that intake rate after the procedure. Adequate water intake protects your kidneys and helps maintain your blood pressure during and after surgery.

2. Consider Adding Vitamin Supplements

For those concerned about adequate post-op nutrition, vitamin supplements are available and worth considering. Discuss with your surgeon what supplements are right for you and your recovery plan. If you are taking any special medications, be sure to ask your doctor if any foods are off-limits while you recover. My favorite post-surgery supplements are Arnica montana, Bromelain, Astaxanthin, and Vitamin K. I have found that their use in preparation for surgery and recovery after surgery has resulted in quicker resolution of swelling and bruising.

3. Don’t Skip the Protein

During surgery, various body tissue types are damaged and in need of repair. Adequate protein intake helps your system rebuild these body tissues. Vegetarians and vegans should seek protein through almonds, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. If eating meat isn’t a problem, opt for lean meats such as chicken, pork, and seafood.  Protein supplementation with a flavorful whey protein drink is also desirable.

4. Be Sure To Eat Even if You Don’t Want to Eat

This may sound obvious, but don’t forget to eat. Depending on the location of your surgery, eating may become painful or inconvenient – since your metabolism is up after surgery, now is not the time to swear off food. Your body needs healthy calories when it is in a state of self-repair, and denying your system important nutrients could result in delayed wound healing. Medication like narcotics and antibiotics can upset the stomach, so stick to simpler meals that are easier to keep down. If eating proves painful or uncomfortable but otherwise digestible, opt for calorically denser foods. Make sure you have a selection of foods you like easily available. Get your grocery shopping done well in advance of surgery.

5. Add Fiber to Keep Things Moving

High-fiber foods help stabilize your digestive processes, and reduce the risk of constipation, a relatively common side effect of surgery. Popular foods include whole grain breads, fruit, vegetables, beans, and certain fiber-rich cereals. If concerned about constipation, avoid dehydrated or processed foods, dairy products, red meats, and sweets. Adding a stool softener or fiber supplement may be necessary.

6. All Hail Vitamin A

Adequate Vitamin A intake promotes epithelial and bone formation, as well as boosts general immune function. For high vitamin concentrations, try leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Other viable sources include yams, carrots, squash, and bell peppers. Vitamin A is fat soluble, meaning that it must be consumed with fat for optimal absorption, so considering preparing your cooked kale with a serving of extra virgin olive oil. Patients who are on oral steroids for chronic medical conditions especially benefit from Vitamin A supplementation.

7. New Collagen Requires Vitamin C

Collagen regeneration is required to restore structural proteins in the skin, a vital element of recovery after surgery. In addition to boosting collagen formation, Vitamin C promotes immune function, and acts as a tissue antioxidant, blocking the harmful effects of free radicals in your system. The vitamin is water soluble and requires a continuous supply, as residual amounts of Vitamin C are expelled from the body in our urine. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, kiwi, mango, broccoli, and potatoes. Add orange juice to your whey protein to make a power shake!

 

Taking the time to plan for your recovery will ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. Proper nutrition is key to this. Ask your surgeon about their particular nutritional optimization program so that you are both on the same page when it comes to having a successful surgery. Good luck!

About the author Manish H. Shah, MD, FACS

I am a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Denver, Colorado. I specialize in cosmetic surgery of the face and body. Rhinoplasty, Revision Rhinoplasty, and Ethnic Rhinoplasty are my favorite procedures.

All posts by Manish H. Shah, MD, FACS →

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