Arnica for Reduction in Bruising in Plastic Surgery

Q : I am scheduled for facelift surgery and want to do everything to shorten my recovery and have a good result. I have read about the medication Arnica which is supposed to reduce swelling and bruising. I bought some Arnica montana to take 2 weeks before surgery and 2 weeks after and what I found was pills that dissolved on your tongue and should be taken every 30 minutes.   Is that how I should take them? 

A: Arnica, known more formally as Arnica Montana, is a herb extract from the mountain lily flower. It has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years and remains popular today. It is used in the non-drug treatment of muscle aches and to reduce inflammation. In plastic surgery, it is used with the primary intent to reduce bruising. It can be applied topically as a cream or ointment to a bruise or can be taken orally to either prevent or treat bruising. Its effectiveness is more than a medical myth and clinical studies have shown its value. It has not known harmful effects when taken in homeopathic doses.

Oral arnica is what is recommended for elective cosmetic surgery. Because of the visibility of the face, I always recommend to my facial surgery patients that they take it several weeks before and after surgery. It comes in homeopathic doses which are usually given in C units rather than milligrams like prescription drugs. Arnica tablets can usually be gotten in doses of 15C, 30C and 60C. There are no proven differences in  anti-bruising benefits to any of these doses. They are to be taken by placing several tablets under the tongue (sublingual) and letting them dissolve at a frequency of four times per day.

Dr. Barry Eppley