Supplements to Help Healing

Published on July 3, 2013 by

Preoperative and postoperative use of dietary supplements and vitamins can be combined with good surgical care to create a comprehensive and ultimately more effective healing process and result. The relative small doses used make them extremely safe–particularly when pharmaceutical grade products are purchased. The list below with accompanying explanations is certainly not exhaustive but is a good overview. For your quality assurance, the majority of these products (pharmaceutical-grade) may be purchased through our office prior to your procedure.

Bromelain ( Pineapple enzyme)

Bromelain is often used as a digestive aid, however in fairly large doses it appears to aid in reducing bruising. Approximately 500 mg is taken daily for seven days prior to surgery and for 7-10 days following surgery. We recommend taking the 500 mg in divided doses following each meal as in some people it may cause minimal gastric symptoms when taken on an empty stomach.

Vitamin B Complex

This complex supplement includes all the B-vitamins: Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Cyanocobolamin (B12), Biotin, Choline, Folic Acid.

B vitamins work best in concert, even though one or more may be taken in larger doses than “normal” to treat certain disorders. In general the B complex of vitamins help in the health of brain function, nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver and GI tract.

Vitamin C-combined w/ Glutathione and L-Cysteine

An antioxidant which stimulates healing at the cellular level. It aids in the production of collagen and strengthens the blood vessels. This vitamin should be taken both pre- and post-operatively. Sustained release formulas of 500-1000 mg should be taken two times daily.

Vitamin E

Known as a potent antioxidant preventing fee radicals from damaging cells and tissues. In this capacity, Vitamin E. accelerates wound healing, protects lung tissue from inhaled pollutants and may prevent premature skin aging. Is known to increase bleeding times resulting in increase in bruising or possible hematoma formation following surgery.

Free-Form Amino Acids

Dietary protein is made up of amino acids. Our bodies require 28 amino acids to carry out ALL regulatory processes of the body. Amino acids enable vitamins and minerals to perform their jobs properly. Vitamins and minerals may be absorbed BUT will not be effective for the body to use without the necessary amino acids. Free form (the purest form of amino acids) need no digestion and are absorbed directly into the blood stream and come from hypoallergenic food sources. Powder or crystalline forms are the best for bio-availablity.

Glutathione-combined w/ Vitamin C and L-Cysteine

A powerful antioxidant produced in the liver. Among other things, glutathione detoxifies harmful compounds ( e.g.: anesthetic by-products) so that they can be excreted through the bile. It is also helpful in the breakdown of carbohydrates and oxidized fats that may contribute to atherosclerosis.

L-cysteine-combined w/Glutathione and L-Cysteine

Aids in the formation of skin and is one of the most important destroyers of free radicals, particularly when combined with the intake of vitamin E. Cysteine aids in the production of collagen and promotes the proper elasticity and texture of the skin.

This nutrient is beneficial in wound healing as well as acting as an antioxidant. Zinc should be taken both pre- and post-operatively. Only a small amount (15-40 mg) is needed one time daily.

I do not recommend Arnica and Vitamin E (400 iu or more) as preoperative supplements. Its effect on vascularity may promote undesirable oozing (bleeding) during surgery and actually compromise early healing.

Preoperative Preparation (2-3 weeks prior to surgery):


  • Vitamin B-complex (contains all the known B’s)
  • Combination of Vitamin C, Glutathione and L-Cysteine
  • Free-Form Amino Acids
  • Zinc

Patients who currently use a multi-vitamin (those usually will contain Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene and Vitamin E) are encouraged to stop this for ~an 8 week time interval surrounding their surgery.

Women ARE encouraged at this time to continue their Calcium supplementation. We recommend and make available a premier form of bio-available, bone supporting Calcium through our office.

Postoperative Care (first 6 weeks following surgery unless noted otherwise)

  • Bromelain (until obvious bruising has dissipated)
  • Vitamin C, Glutathione & L-cysteine
  • Vitamin E (not to exceed 400 iu)
  • Free-Form Amino Acids
  • Zinc

There are several antioxidants beyond those noted here that may be taken postoperatively to speed healing. Please call Lisa if you desire more information about supplements. (214-821-9662 ext:210)

Supplements to Avoid

There are several supplements to avoid prior to and following your surgery. These products have beneficial effects for the body EXCEPT during the perioperative phase.

  • Arnica
  • Aspirin
  • Vitamin A or Beta-carotene (a collagen support vitamin–pre/post ingestion may enhance scar formation and delay results due to prolonged presence of “spongy”& “firm” scars)
  • Vitamin E (over 400 iu/day)
  • Feverfew
  • Gingko biloba
  • Grape seed extract (pycnogenol)
  • Green Tea
  • St. John’s Wort

We believe in the use of supplements (herbs, powdered food and vitamins) to help our bodies go beyond sustenance to increased quality of life. Our food alone, particularly the way most people eat, is not capable of helping our immune or hormone systems to work optimally.

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    Dr. Steve Byrd

    Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

    To visit our office use address:
    9101 N Central Expy #560
    Dallas, TX 75231

    For mailing purposes use address:
    9101 N Central Expy #600
    Dallas, TX 75231
    Tel (214) 821-9662
    Fax (214) 828-2609

    The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic SurgeryAmerican Society of Plastic Surgeons