Herbal Supplements and Surgery – Safe or not?

Herbal supplements are everywhere. And cosmetic surgery patients love them – in a recent survey, 55% of cosmetic surgery patients surveyed took 2 or more supplements, compared to only 24% in the general population. The most commonly used supplements in the survey were: chondroitin, ephedra, echinacea and glucosamine.

Some supplements have some serious side effects that may be problematic, if you are having general anesthesia and surgery.

Here’s a quick guide to which supplements should be stopped, and the reasons why. The general recommendation is to stop these supplements two weeks before surgery.

These supplements can cause bleeding problems:
Chondroitin / Glucosamine — can also cause low blood sugar
Fish Oil
Garlic
Ginger
Gingko
Ginseng — can also cause low blood pressure under anesthesia
Saw Palmetto
Vitamin E

These supplements affect drug metabolism and can cause excessive sedation:
Echinacea
Goldenseal — can also cause photosensitivity reactions from laser light
Kava
St. John’s Wort — can also cause low blood pressure under anesthesia
Valerian

Ephedra (“Ma-Huang”) – can cause cardiac arrhythmias, stroke, heart attack, low blood pressure under anesthesia

Since the whole idea of cosmetic surgery is to have a wonderful outcome and to minimize the risk of complications, the problems these seemingly-innocent supplements can cause are just not worth it. Please avoid them – and have a smooth recovery!

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