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Full Disclosure: Why You Must Tell Your Doctor Your Medical History

Plastic surgery involves anesthesia, physical stress on the body, significant recovery time and post-op meds. If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, your past medical history makes a difference! For your own health, it’s important that you be upfront about medications and supplements you’re taking, lifestyle habits (including the “every-couple-of-months cigarette”) and past medical conditions when filling out those waiting room forms. Otherwise, omitting information is risking life and limb.

Current Medication: Not Just Prescription, It’s Vitamins and Supplements Too

Many vitamins and supplements, including some of the most common ones, offer wonderful health benefits… until they’re combined with more powerful drugs. Fish oil, vitamin E and ginkgo biloba all have blood-thinning properties which could be dangerous during surgery. Melatonin may help you fall asleep at night, but it may also compound the effects of pain medications and anesthetics. St. John’s Wort can have a range of negative reactions when combined with medication affecting heart rate, blood pressure, the digestive tract and other functions of your body’s autonomic nervous system. If you are considering plastic surgery, then a good rule of thumb we recommend is discontinuing use of vitamins and supplements two weeks before and two weeks after you have your surgery.

Many patients are so in the habit of taking their vitamins that they don’t give the vitamins much thought when filling out medical history forms. Prior to your consultation at Livingston Plastic Surgery, be sure to take inventory of your medicine cabinet and make a list of vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter pills like ibuprofen that you take on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. This list, combined with your medical history records, will enable our team to give you the best possible care throughout your surgical process.

Smoking Is a Serious Surgery Setback

There’s a good reason those medical forms are asking about your smoking habits. Nicotine has serious effects on blood pressure, may respond poorly to anesthesia, significantly delays the recovery process and intensifies scarring. Nicotine acts as a sort of tourniquet in your body, inhibiting blood supply to the skin and deep tissues, and sometimes causes tiny veins to fail. A heavy smoker in surgery may lose blood supply to the extremities, killing the skin cells and causing them to turn black. This can happen almost anywhere on a smoker’s body during surgery, including the nipples, cheeks and chin. This is a risk that is absolutely not worth taking.

Even light smokers and patients frequently exposed to secondhand smoke should take a rain check on a cosmetic surgical procedure until they have avoided all forms of nicotine for an extended time. Patients who are unable to quit smoking should be very conscious of the setbacks and risks prior to undergoing any type of surgery (cosmetic or otherwise).

Drinking Increases Surgical Risks

Since alcohol tends to be a blood thinner, alcohol consumption can potentially create complications during surgery as well as delay recovery afterward. Drinking alcohol post-surgery will cause swelling, slow the healing process and increase bruising. Those that drink more heavily may be putting themselves at risk of major complications: post-op infections, uncontrolled bleeding, and impaired heart and lung functions. Alcohol also causes a variety of hazardous complications with medication.

You should abstain from alcohol for at least two weeks prior to plastic surgery and at least two weeks after for a healthy and successful recovery.

Not So Black and White: Other Factors May Impact Surgery Success

If there other factors in your life that are having a significant impact on your health, it’s important to bring these up during your consultation too (for instance, if you have recently experienced major fluctuations in weight or severe disruption of sleep). Unhealthy stress coping mechanisms should also be addressed, such as disordered eating or over-exercising. Any of these factors could impact your surgery and recovery, or be indicative of greater health risks not reflected on your medical records.

At Livingston Plastic Surgery, patient safety is top priority. We will discuss with you any medical concerns you may have, and help you decide the best course of action for your health. Most patients who come in for consultation are able to undergo surgery and experience a normal recovery. Healthy lifestyle choices are beneficial not just for surgery and recovery, but also for maintaining the effects of the surgery in the long run. To set up your own consultation for any of our cosmetic procedures, contact Livingston Plastic Surgery today!