Theodore Diktaban, MD, FACS, received his undergraduate degree in biology from Colgate University in Hamilton, NY, and his medical degree from New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. Diktaban received his post-graduate training at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, both  in  New York City, and the Department of Surgery of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He holds certifications from the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology. He is a member of many associations, including the American College of Surgeons, the New York State Medical Society, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Diktaban has used arnica montana and other homeopathic medicines in his practice for 15 years.

What is arnica montana, and how does it help facilitate the healing process after surgical procedures?

Arnica montana, also known as mountain daisy, is a perennial plant commonly found in the northwestern parts of the United States and central Europe. Centuries ago, European mountain climbers used the fresh plant to relieve sore, aching muscles and bruises from falls. Today, the extract, similarly called arnica montana, is used homeopathically to treat surgical or accidental trauma. It is also used for bruises, sprains, muscle aches, and as a topical pain reliever.

How are arnica pellets different from the cream and gel?

Arnica can be taken internally via pellets that dissolve quickly under the tongue. The topicals work well after noninvasive procedures such as injections of fillers, collagen treatments, or botulinum toxin Type A. The moisturizing cream may be used  after facial procedures. The gel is nonsticky and may be used on wider skin surfaces and around injection sites. When the pellets and topicals are used together to reduce pain, bruising, and swelling, they offer a systemic effect.

Is arnica safe to use?

Homeopathic medicines such as arnica montana are made from minute doses of natural substances and have been regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration for almost 70 years. These medicines have no reported side effects, do not interact with other medications, are safe for high-risk patients, and do not suppress other symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition. It is important to note that arnica topicals should never be applied on broken skin.

What types of procedures can benefit from the use of arnica?

When should it be used?

Arnica can help reduce swelling, bruising, and discomfort, and it can help shorten the recovery time after surgical procedures, such as breast augmentations or lifts, liposuction, facelifts, rhinoplasties, and blepharoplasties. Oral pellets are recommended for use before and after surgery.  Because the pellets are given sublingually and bypass the stomach, they are safe to take even on the day of surgery. The topicals can be used following procedures for direct, local action on the skin.

How do you prescribe arnica to your patients? Is there a recommended dosage?

I suggest that the patient take arnica 12C, five pellets three times per day, 2 days before and as long as necessary after surgery, until symptoms improve. Boiron offers a plastic surgery recovery kit that contains three tubes of arnica 12C, enough for 15 days of treatment. As for the cream or gel, it is recommended that patients apply a thin layer to the affected area—away from the wound—and repeat that three times per day.