Q: Dr. Eppley, I am having a facelift two weeks from today and want things to go as well as they can. I have read about taking arnica and bromelain supplements to speed healing and make my recovery quicker. Would these be good to take before surgery?
A: These are common non-pharmaceutical supplements for healing that some plastic surgeons endorse and prescribe for surgery including facelift surgery. Arnica is a well-known extract of the mountain lily flower that has been used for decades to prevent or clear bruising related to any form of trauma. Taken one week before and one week after surgery, it helps prevent some of the bruising that will occur as well as speeds its resolution after surgery. Arnica is most commonly used as an oral tablet but can also be applied directly to the bruised site as a topical ointment. Bromelain is an extract in oral or liquid form from the pineapple fruit that has anti-inflammatory properties. It is commonly used for sports injury, trauma and surgery to decrease swelling. Contrary to popular belief, eating pineapple will not increase your levels of bromelain as it exists mainly in the stem of the fruit. My feeling on both supplements is that they do no harm, are relatively inexpensive, and may provide some recovery benefit so I do advise my patients to take them particularly for any facial surgery.
Dr. Barry Eppley