Whether preparing for a cosmetic or medical procedure, your patients can give their skin and body a boost while helping to minimise side-effects by following a few simple diet and nutrition guidelines:
What to Eat and Avoid Before a Procedure
Part of preparing your patients for any kind of procedure, whether surgical or non-surgical, should involve providing detailed instructions for what to do in the days and weeks leading up to their appointment. The goal is to speed up the body’s wound healing process, as well as to minimise potential side-effects such as bruising, swelling, and hyperpigmentation. To do this, encourage your patients to:
1. Eat whole foods rather than processed foods. Focusing on a whole food diet has been a recent health and wellness trend for a variety of reasons, including the better management of chronic skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis (Skin Therapy Letter). Another benefit of swapping out highly processed foods for whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables before a surgery or a procedure is that processed foods lead to chronic inflammation, which can prolong the healing process. Conversely, whole grains possess strong anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Load up on antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants are important nutrients that provide free radical protection, lower inflammation, and accelerate wound healing. Tomatoes are one great source of antioxidants because they are rich in lycopene. This is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes and many other red fruits and vegetables their bright red colours. Other plant pigments like beta-carotene, lutein, and anthocyanins, found in carrots, spinach, and blueberries respectively, are also powerful antioxidants. So encourage patients to eat fresh foods that are all different colours of the rainbow to ensure they’re getting plenty of immune-boosting antioxidants.
3. Avoid taking blood-thinning medications, foods and herbal supplements. Provide your patients with an extensive list of medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements that can thin the blood and therefore contribute to bruising after their procedure. Just a few of the medications and supplements to include on this list to avoid are aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Vitamin E, green tea, St. John’s Wort, Omega-3s, salmon, ginger, flaxseed oil and ginseng.
Combine pre-procedure diet and nutrition advice with the right topical ingredients as well, including retinoids like tretinoin and retinol. Studies have shown that treating the skin with tretinoin prior to a procedure can accelerate healing (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
What to Eat and Avoid After a Procedure
Afterwards, the goal is still to promote efficient wound healing and avoid severe side-effects. In terms of topical skincare products, retinoids should be avoided directly after a procedure, as well as acidic ingredients that could cause stinging. As for dietary suggestions, advise your patients to eat and avoid these foods and supplements post-procedure:
1. Take Vitamin C and zinc supplements. When taken right after a procedure, Vitamin C and zinc have been shown to help speed up wound healing, making these both beneficial supplements to add to most post-procedure dietary regimens (Surgery Today). As an added bonus, Vitamin C also plays an important role in collagen production, so it can also help to improve the skin’s appearance and fight signs of ageing. In addition to taking Vitamin C supplements, patients can also eat foods that contain high concentrations of this vitamin, such as red bell peppers, citrus fruits, and pineapple.
2. Eat anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants. Loading up on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods is just as important after a procedure as it is before. Although inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s natural healing and repair system, chronic inflammation can lead to a whole host of skin and health concerns, as well as an increased risk of complications and side-effects during recovery. Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods to eat after surgery are nuts, whole grains, evening primrose oil supplements and to drink green tea.
3. Take arnica montana supplements. Arnica is an herbal supplement that may help to reduce bruising and swelling after surgical and non-surgical procedures alike, including injectable fillers, laser skin resurfacing, and liposuction. Patients can take arnica supplements before and after treatment to help minimise side-effects. Arnica is also available in a topical hydrogel pad that can be used immediately after a procedure.
Special Considerations for Patients with Chronic Skin Conditions
In addition to following these general dietary pre- and post-procedure guidelines, patients with inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis may need to pay special attention to dietary triggers that could cause symptom flare-ups. Patients with acne should be advised to reduce sugar intake, as high-glycemic diets are the leading dietary trigger of this common skin condition. Some of the biggest food triggers for eczema are milk, eggs, wheat, soy, seafood, and nuts, while gluten is the top contributing food-related factor in psoriasis symptoms. For those with rosacea, spices, hot sauce, tomatoes, chocolate, citrus, and alcohol should be avoided (Skin Therapy Letter).
Diet and nutrition play an important ole in the effectiveness of various treatments and the severity of side-effects such as bruising, swelling, and redness afterwards. Providing your patients with specific advice about what to eat and what to avoid before and after their surgery or procedure can help to shorten their recovery time, reduce side-effects, and improve their overall results.
Many of these same dietary suggestions may also help to manage inflammatory skin conditions, combat wrinkles and other signs of ageing, and improve the skin’s health and appearance. Combine the right dietary advice with the most appropriate topical skincare products for your patients’ skin types for the most effective and comprehensive approach to helping them achieve and maintain healthy, brighter, and younger-looking skin.
Dr Leslie Baumann is an internationally renowned board certified dermatologist, a New York Times best-selling author and media personality. An expert in her field she is the CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute.