Supplements that Optimize Healing after Surgery

Many patients are interested in taking vitamins and supplements after cosmetic surgery. Ultimately, certain vitamins and supplements may interact with medications prescribed by Dr. Hayley Brown, so you should check with our staff about anything you are planning to take in addition to prescribed medications. Most people don’t need to take any additional supplements before or after surgery, especially if you already eat healthy whole foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables. But if you want to take supplements for swelling after surgery, be sure to bring this up during your consultation.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It strengthens the connective tissue in your skin, muscles, and blood vessels. It also contributes to the formation of collagen. Many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, kiwis, and lemons, are great sources of this vitamin. It’s a good idea to incorporate these types of produce into your regular diet in order to get a healthy dose of vitamin C. If you’re about to undergo surgery, Dr. Brown recommends taking vitamin C before surgery.

Dr. Brown often recommends daily Vitamin C for healing after surgery. In general, there is no danger or risk associated with 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily in addition to your prescribed medications. Vitamin C is thought to promote and support proper wound healing. One study recommended 1-2 grams daily from wound onset until healing is complete. Dr. Brown is of the opinion that vitamin C can support the proper healing of cosmetic surgical incisions.

Vitamin A

This vitamin supports adequate healing of incisions and promotes collagen production. Vitamin A may increase the tensile strength of the healing incision, which is a good thing! It does this by prompting the inflammatory response to the wound. If you are taking a corticosteroid or other anti-inflammatory steroid, then Dr. Brown may recommend a higher dose of vitamin A in order to counteract the anti-inflammatory effect (in this case, you do want some amount of inflammatory response at the incision, although only to a degree). Talk to Dr. Brown about whether vitamin A is right for you.


Most healthy people are getting enough zinc through their diet and do not need a supplement. Meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, and eggs are some of the main sources of dietary zinc. This nutrient is important for many reasons, including its ability to support skin and mucosal membranes as you heal from cosmetic surgery. It’s unlikely you need additional zinc supplementation but talk to Dr. Brown if you have any concerns. If you don’t have a zinc deficiency, taking a zinc supplement won’t improve wound healing and could lead to zinc toxicity in a worst-case scenario. A healthy diet and vitamins for healing after surgery are typically more than adequate to get the zinc you need.


Bromelain has long been thought to reduce swelling and inflammation after surgery, which is why this vitamin after surgery could help your healing. Bromelain and other dietary supplements do not require FDA approval, so claims related to them have not been put through standardized testing for safety and efficacy. Follow the dosing instructions on the label if you decide to take bromelain, and talk to Dr. Brown about whether it is safe to take pre and post-surgery supplements.

Arnica Montana

Dr. Brown may recommend arnica in a topical gel or cream form after certain facial procedures or injectable treatments, but only in certain areas. Do not apply it directly to open wounds or your incisions. Instead, you can lightly massage the arnica gel or cream where there are areas of bruising around the cheeks, mouth, or lower eyelids. Dr. Brown sometimes recommends it after liposuction, when it can be massaged into areas of bruising and swelling for 5-7 days. It may reduce bruising and swelling, and you may find it provides some degree of pain relief; however, these claims have not been tested by the FDA. The FDA has said that arnica montana taken orally has been reported to cause adverse effects.

Regarding Potential Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies impact all aspects of wound healing, as we’ve seen. That’s why healing supplements after surgery are something we recommend if you have a deficiency. Protein and protein-calorie malnutrition results in decreased synthesis of protein and cell production reduced immune function, and delayed progression of all phases of wound healing. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies impair tissue synthesis, energy production, oxygen transportation, immune function, and all phases of wound healing. For more information on what constitutes a healthy diet, visit the USDA dietary guidelines here.

With the increased prevalence of gastric bypass surgery for obesity, we have many massive weight loss patients presenting to our office for body contouring. These patients are at high risk for nutritional deficiencies. We recommend that all massive weight loss patients are evaluated with a comprehensive medical examination and bloodwork and have all nutritional deficiencies corrected prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery.

Regarding Probiotics

Probiotics are a good way to restore your body’s flora and potentially boost the immune system after it has been affected by antibiotics. While antibiotics are critical, they do cause certain adverse changes, including wiping out your body’s good bacteria. Probiotics may be a way to counteract these adverse effects.

Antibiotics are indispensable to modern healthcare. They are prescribed to our cosmetic surgery patients in advance of surgery. They are especially important for women receiving breast implants or patients who will have drainage tubes while recovering from surgery. Taking probiotics with antibiotics can mitigate some of the unpleasant side effects of antibiotics. You can get probiotics from yogurt, miso, tempeh, soy beverages, and fermented products. You can also take a probiotic supplement. Your local health food store and drug stores have a variety of probiotic compounds in pill, capsule, or powder form that you can take daily while you are under antibiotic treatment to increase the amount of beneficial flora in your intestinal tract.

Just remember to always consult with your doctor before taking anything new as it might affect the medications you’re currently taking.

Rhinoplasty Healing

Some supplements that you can take that can reduce swelling after a rhinoplasty surgery are as follows:

  • Vitamin C
  • Bromelain
  • Arnica Montana
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Hydration

While taking supplements to reduce swelling, remember that not everyone is the same, and supplements that work for someone might not work for you. Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor before surgery.

Rely on Dr. Hayley for Complete Aftercare Instructions

As our patient, you will always receive clear, straightforward information about your care, aftercare, and all aspects of the cosmetic surgery process at our Las Vegas-area practice. Be sure to ask about some after-surgery vitamins during your consultation. To learn more about vitamins post-surgery, please call Desert Hills Plastic Surgery Center in Henderson at 702-899-1158 or fill out our online contact form.

The mind is an equally important player when it comes to healing. Studies have shown that patients who are more relaxed and better informed about upcoming surgery are more likely to enjoy a successful outcome.

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