While many people undergoing a plastic surgery procedure are sure to tell their physician about the prescription and over-the-counter medications they take, they may not tell them about the herbal, homeopathic or natural remedies they use on a regular basis.
"Many patients don't disclose their intake of herbs or supplements, and they are often not aware of the risk of complications, which can seriously compromise surgical outcomes and patient safety," said Dr. Foad Nahai, MD, editor-in-chief of Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
Researchers with Loma Linda University have released a guide, "Bleeding Risks of Herbal, Homeopathic, and Dietary Supplements: A Hidden Nightmare for Plastic Surgeons?" to help doctors stay abreast of the dangers associated with these products. It is being published in the March issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
"It is essential that plastic surgeons be aware of the popular, 'natural' products that have potentially dangerous bleeding effects," said lead author Dr. Subhas Gupta. "We conducted this review to help surgeons educate, screen and counsel their patients on herbal foods, supplements, teas and other homeopathic remedies that can compromise patient safety."
The review found that some of the most popular herbs and supplements with potentially dangerous bleeding effects include Chinese peony, garlic, ginger, ginko, ginseng, oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate) and Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Salbalserrulata).
In addition to questioning patients about what natural remedies they use, the review recommends physicians advise surgical patients to stop using these items two to three weeks prior to surgery and avoid taking them again until they get the go-ahead from a medical professional.
Besides herbal supplements, doctors recommend patients undergoing certain plastic surgery procedures such as Botox injections stop using aspirin or ibuprofen several weeks beforehand.
According to WebMD, these medications can thin the blood and cause bleeding, which can increase bruising at the site of the injection.