Herbal Supplements: Helpful or Harmful?

In a Study published in the journal of my society, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it was shown that almost 50% of patients who were planning to undergo some type of facial cosmetic procedure (facelifts, blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty) were taking some from of herbal supplement. The problem is that many of these supplements can have adverse effects for a surgical patient.

In the study, it was found that 49% of patients were using at least one supplement, usually vitamins. In all there were about 53 different supplements that were used and the average number of supplements used was about 3.

The problems we see as surgeons that are supplement related are that many patients don’t really know what is in these things and they can cause problems. Bleeding is probably the most common problem and is related to bilberry bromelain, fish oil, garlic, MSM, selenium and Vit E.

What I recommend to my patients is to stop taking all supplement 2 weeks before surgery. And, don’t be tricked into thinking that these supplements are always safe. A lot of my patients, when they fill out their intake paperwork, will omit their supplements because they are not prescriptions. This is a mistake and can lead to post operative complications.

Lee Corbett, MD