Web Log – October 2015 – Nutrition and Plastic Surgery

Patients often ask what they can do to best prepare for before and after surgery.  They are concerned about activity, exercise, and return to work.   Getting the body in optimal shape is usually forgotten.  That does not mean a new exercise program (although a healthy established weight that can be maintained is best).   One crucial factor that most do not consider is good sleep.  A recent study showed that you are 4 to 5 times more likely to catch the flu if you are sleep deprived as opposed to well rested.  It just makes sense that you will heal better if well rested.

Another crucial factor is nutrition.  In Plastic Surgery Training, we thought a lot about optimizing the nutrition of patients with chronic non healing wounds before we would operate on them.  We just assume that otherwise reasonably healthy patients undergoing elective Plastic Surgery have good nutrition, but do they?  Expensive pre op lab testing is likely not a good value.  A better idea would be to emphasize good nutrition at least two weeks before and after surgery (and preferably forever thereafter).  That means relatively high lean protein, moderate carbs, and low fat.  The internet is swarming with good healthy diets.  In the short term (a few weeks before and after operation), however, augmenting a healthy diet with one serving of protein supplement per day may be helpful with little downside.  The problem is, no one has done that study that I am aware of (I looked).

A powdered supplement that per serving has fewer than 200 calories and about 20 g of protein is best.  You probably need to look for a “high protein” product.  Avoid meal replacement products as they have unnecessary sugar calories.  Most options have whey protein from milk, but there are soy and non soy plant based products as well.  If you have liver or kidney disease or other metabolism disorders or significant health problem, it is best to check with your primary care physician before starting a supplement.

Mark D. Wigod, MD, FACS, providing cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery to Boise, Meridian, Treasure Valley and Southeastern Idaho.

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