Herbal supplements, a smoking gun in plastic surgeryNatural herbal supplements are supposed to help boost our immune systems, give us more energy and make us generally healthier. However, many of these "harmless" supplements could cause dangerous side effects during plastic surgery, reports a study in February's Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In fact, the study found approximately 55 percent of plastic surgery patients, compared to 24 percent of the general public, take supplements but often do not tell their surgeons.
"When patients are asked about the medications they are taking, many do not mention medicinal herbs because they assume that they are safe," said ASPS member James Bradley, MD, study co-author, University of California, Los Angeles. "What many unsuspecting patients don't know is that the natural herbs they are taking may cause serious complications during and after surgery."
All 55 percent of plastic surgery patients who used herbal supplements took at least two different supplements and at least one on a daily basis. The most popular herbal supplements were chondroitin (18 percent), ephedra (18 percent), echinacea (14 percent) and glucosamine (10 percent).
Other common supplements taken by patients in the study that may cause dangerous side effects included gingko biloba, goldenseal, milk thistle, ginseng, kava and garlic.
In addition to having a greater tendency toward taking herbal supplements, 35 percent of plastic surgery patients were more likely to engage in homeopathic practices, including acupuncture, hypnosis, chiropractic manipulation, massage, yoga and Pilates. Only six percent of the general population practiced homeopathics on a weekly basis.
"Patients should tell doctors about all of the medications they are taking – natural or prescribed. Only then can we safely suggest the appropriate discontinuation period, which can range from 24 hours to one month," said Dr. Bradley. "Taking this precaution is essential to a safe surgery and smooth recovery."
For referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, call 888-4-PLASTIC (475-2784) or visit www.plasticsurgery.org where you can also learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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