An article in the March/April issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal reports that in the two weeks before surgery, more than 40% of plastic surgery patients use herbal supplements, some of which can have negative effects when combined with surgery.

According to the report, the most significant and potentially dangerous effects of alternative medicines occur during the operative and immediate postoperative periods.

"In considering the dizzying array of supplements available, the main concerns of the plastic surgeon are interaction with other medications, cardiovascular effects, alteration of coagulation [bleeding] and sedative effects," said David J. Rowe, MD, lead author and assistant professor of Plastic Surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Lyndhurst, Ohio.

Rowe and others found that as many as 70% of patients may not inform their surgeon or conventional health care provider about their use of alternative medications. Patients may feel that their physician has little knowledge or interest in naturopathic medicine or that they may disapprove of the treatments, the report stated. Others are not aware of the relevance of supplement usage to their current medical or surgical care.

"This article was written to help plastic surgeons and their patients identify potentially harmful herbal supplements, based on the most current scientific research," Rowe said. "On the positive side, we also discuss how providing the correct supplements and nutrients after aesthetic surgery can be very therapeutic."

The study’s authors advised that patients receive a comprehensive list of supplements that must be avoided in the perioperative period to minimize potential surgical complications.

"Despite the fact that the dangerous side effects of some herbal supplements have been widely publicized, plastic surgeons still find that many patients do not fully appreciate the importance of discontinuing these treatments before surgery," said Alan Gold, MD, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). "Physicians must have at least fundamental knowledge of the common herbal medications and their effects, and then be very proactive in discussing patients’ use of herbal supplements during the history, consultation and informed consent process. Stopping certain herbal supplements prior to surgery is just as critical as stopping aspirin, ibuprofen and many other common drugs."

[Source: Medical News Today]