Herbal supplements and vitamins are known to have a signiﬁcant and measurable eﬀect on promoting wound healing, reducing bruising, enhancing immunity, and reducing oxidation caused by both surgery and anaesthetic drugs. However, these supplements are still drugs that could cause dangerous side eﬀects during cosmetic surgery. About 50% of cosmetic surgery patients take supplements (usually more than one), but often do not tell their surgeons because they assume they are safe. Some of the most popular herbal supplements taken are chondroitin, echinacea, and glucosamine:
- Chondroitin is often used to treat osteoarthritis. People using chondroitin may suﬀer from bleeding complications during surgery, particularly when used in combination with doctor-prescribed blood-thinning medications (like warfarin).
- Echinacea is often used for the prevention and treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections, as well as chronic wounds, ulcers, and arthritis. However, it can trigger immunosuppression, causing poor wound healing and infection.
- Glucosamine, often oﬀered in conjunction with chondroitin, contains chemical elements that mimic human insulin, and may artiﬁcially cause low blood sugars during surgery.
Cosmetic surgery should be viewed with the same care and concern as heart or brain surgery. Everything we do is important for our patients, so every precaution and safety should be taken to minimise complications from surgery and anaesthesia. Remember, we need your help and cooperation at all times. Advise us of every drug you take, prescribed and non-prescribed and cease taking any blood thinning agents 2 weeks prior to surgery unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon