Forty-nine percent of patients were taking at least one herbal or dietary supplement prior to undergoing cosmetic facial surgery, according to a new study in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. While it may seem innocuous to take vitamin D, B12 or fish oil supplements before surgery, a few serious risks have been identified.
Case Western Reserve University researchers in Cleveland, Ohio reported that 35 of 200 patients were taking supplements that have been linked to an increased risk of bleeding and interference with normal blood clotting.
These supplements include:
Patients took an average of 2.8 supplements, but one patient was on 28 different herbs. Other supplements carried a different set of risks. For instance:
Many patients do not disclose their use of herbal supplements with their doctors. Sometimes patients assume plastic surgeons don’t know anything about supplements or they may fear backlash from surgeons who claim herbs are “quack science,” says WebMD. Most medical school curriculum does include information about herbal medicine, but not every practicing physician or surgeon educates their patients about the known risks involved.
In this country, herbal medications are classified as “dietary supplements,” so they are exempt from safety regulations imposed by the Food and Drug Administration. Most herbal remedies have not been thoroughly vetted through large clinical trials and little has been published about the risks. Consumers – who see the words “homeopathic” and “natural” – may assume the products are safe.
However, an article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons a few years ago highlights potential dangers for patients who are on other medications. For instance, feverfew, St. John’s Wort and ginseng can interact with the anti-clotting drug warfarin. Feverfew and gingko can interact with aspirin. Garlic interferes with the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine. Black cohosh interacts with the cancer drug tamoxifen and cat’s claw interferes with blood pressure medications.
Little-known potential risks like this emphasize how important it is to find a plastic surgeon with a long, unblemished track record of patient safety and great-looking, natural results. At the initial consultation, a professional plastic surgeon will inquire about any medications the patient is currently taking, including any supplements. Patients are advised to stop taking the supplements for two to three weeks before their procedures. Dr. Thomas W. Loeb, one of the preeminent plastic surgeons in Manhattan, would be happy to answer any questions individuals may have about the effects of herbal supplements on New York facelift surgery or other procedures. Private consultations may be scheduled by calling 212-327-3700.