Most important: Avoid all sources of nicotine

The most important thing to avoid before and after plastic surgery is exposure to nicotine. Smoking or vaporizing nicotine during the weeks before and after surgery is very dangerous as it dramatically reduces your body’s ability to heal. Nicotine causes constriction of blood vessels and impairs your immune system. This can lead to tissue death along incision lines and an increased risk of serious infections.

Popular products that people use to help with smoking cessation, such as e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and nicotine gum also cause wound healing complications after surgery. Second hand smoke also leads to increased nicotine levels in you blood and can cause complications after surgery.

If you are a smoker (or e-cigarette user), or live with someone who smokes, you must avoid all forms of nicotine at least one month before and after surgery.

Foods to avoid before surgery

Certain beverages can impact your surgery. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the 24 hours before your procedure. Avoid alcoholic beverages in the week before and the week after surgery. Additionally, do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking pain medication.

  • Red wine increases bruising and should be avoided for a week before surgery.
  • Green tea is a strong antioxidant, but can increase heart hate and blood pressure and can negatively interact with anesthesia. Stop drinking green tea two weeks before surgery. You can resume the consumption of green tea two weeks after surgery.
  • Coffee: If you are a heavy coffee drinker, try to cut your consumption in half before surgery. The caffeine in coffee increases vasoconstriction, which raises heart rate and blood pressure.

Natural supplements, vitamins and minerals

Natural supplements, vitamins and minerals impact your physiology in multiple ways. Any supplement purchased at a health food store may have effects that can negatively impact recovery. Our surgery recovery guidebook has a complete list, but here are common supplements to avoid leading up to and following surgery:

  • Vitamin E is a supplement that can complicate surgery by thinning the blood. Increased bruising can impair wound healing and negatively impact your recovery. While taking a multivitamin that contains a moderate amount of vitamin E will aid in healing, you should discontinue any other vitamin E supplements two weeks before surgery, and wait two weeks to resume its use.
  • Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids to all animals. These supplements also thin the blood, which will cause bleeding and bruising. Stop taking fish oil two weeks before surgery, and wait two weeks to resume its use.
  • Herbal supplements, like garlic or gingko biloba can increase your risk of bleeding during and after surgery. St. John’s Wort can prolong the effects of anesthesia, and even mild supplements like Echinacea can have a negative impact on the safety of your surgery.


To ensure a safe and successful outcome, it is essential that you tell your surgeon about any over-the-counter supplements or prescription medications you take. Do not take any over-the-counter medications, with the exception of Tylenol, for two weeks before and after surgery without first consulting with your surgeon. Common examples of over-the-counter medications that can cause problems include:      

  • Aspirin is taken by some patients to reduce the risk of cardiac events or strokes. Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory and a potent blood thinner. One of its mechanisms is to irreversibly inhibit the aggregation or clumping of platelets. Because of this, the blood is thinned for two weeks following a single dose of aspirin. Let your doctor know if you take any dose of aspirin (even baby aspirin) on a regular basis, so that he or she can review your history and advise you on this and other medications.
  • NSAIDs like Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) and Mobic (meloxicam) are potent over the counter anti-inflammatory medications that also thin the blood. Their effect is shorter than aspirin. Discontinue their use for a week before surgery. If you have joint pain or a headache, take Tylenol instead. You can resume the use of NSAIDs a week after surgery.

For the safety and success of your procedure, we encourage you to choose a plastic surgeon with whom you feel comfortable discussing your health, lifestyle habits, and supplement intake. Be open, honest, and communicative. We can help you customize a special supplement recovery regimen that fits your lifestyle and will help you thrive.

Things to Avoid Before and After Plastic Surgery – Christine Fisher MD

Written by Christine Fisher MD. All rights reserved.

Christine Fisher MD

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