Pre Op & Post Op Nutrition, Hydration, Healing & Rest

Pre Op & Post Op Nutrition, Hydration, Healing & Rest

When your body goes through surgery it views it as major trauma. Regardless of how darling your new breasts are, your body thinks you were hit by a freight train. It is trying feverishly to repair the damage it sees while you are leafing through the latest Victoria Secret catalog in sheer bliss. It's also why we tell people to not overdo, because you are taking away energy your body desperately needs to repair the damage. You'll get tired quickly, and that's your body telling you to slow down because it can't keep up. Don't burn the candle at both ends - it's so easy to do. Don't rob yourself of healing energy. You do not want to have a healing complication and/or prolong your recovery.

You can greatly facilitate your healing:

Prior to your surgery, being well hydrated will help make you more comfortable during the time when you can have nothing by mouth as specified by your plastic surgeon. Most importantly however, it will help to move the anesthesia and other surgery drugs more quickly out of your body after surgery. You also should continue the water after surgery for continued removal of these substances, as well as facilitating your healing. Increase your water consumption to 8-10+ glasses of water per day in the weeks before, as well as weeks following your surgery. Maintaining proper hydration is essential to your healing. It will also help reduce water retention which can make you unnecessarily uncomfortable at this time.

Increase the amount of high quality protein you consume in the weeks before as well as the weeks following surgery.  Increasing your protein will help your body to do the work it needs to do, a lot more effectively and quickly. Select high quality protein such as chicken, fish and eggs and try to avoid fried greasy foods. If you are a vegetarian make sure you are meeting your protein needs, if not exceeding them.

Incorporate dark leafy greens into your meals the weeks before your surgery if you can, as well as in the weeks following your surgery. This may be hard initially, but in conjunction with the water and protein it will truly boost your healing rate. You will not be sorry you did this.  Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, green leaf and romaine lettuce, as well as broccoli and asparagus will all make a world of difference in your recovery. If you are having trouble incorporating these and would like some help, please join us to take part in our Healing Diet group to aid your recovery.

Eating a banana a day for one to two weeks before, or half a banana a day after surgery if you are arriving here post op would be a good idea because you need the potassium. Fresh spinach is also another option. Cantaloup and pineapple are also good choices of natural vitamins and minerals that will all contribute to accelerated healing and some people eat pineapple following surgeries to keep their scars from becoming enlarged and angry looking. Try it - you'll be amazed.

Additionally, ask your plastic surgeon for his advice regarding anything you might do to help yourself heal better as well.

The Importance of Water -  Are You Drinking Enough?

1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so
weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
2. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.
3. One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in
a U-Washington study.
4. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
5. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and
joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
6. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory,
trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
7. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash
the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Reducing Surgical Swelling with Lemon Tea

   Swelling is a factor for any patient after surgery. Trauma is the main cause, but intravenous fluids, pooled blood, plasma, and dead fat cells are also factors. These all contribute to swelling or edema -- visible swelling and puffiness from fluid accumulation in and around your body tissues.  The end result for you is added pain and discomfort.

   While there are many medical causes for edema ranging from heart disease to high sodium levels, you can expect it to be present at and around a surgery site due to the trauma involved. In this case, the edema needs to be absorbed and eliminated by your body before the uncomfortable effects subside.

    To help your body eliminate this build up, we recommended patients use our recipe for "Lemon Tea."  Besides reducing edema, Lemon Tea also helps patients flush out the woozy effects of anesthesia and pain medications. Over time your body should naturally carry these excess fluids and chemicals away, but you can assist in the elimination of them yourself by using Lemon Tea, thus decreasing your pain and discomfort as well as helping you to feel better overall.

   Lemon Tea may also be helpful to you during your first menstrual cycle after your surgery for the same reasons: it will decrease the breast pain associated with monthly bloat. It is also useful in general for monthly bloat.

   This recipe contains no actual tea, just simply water, lemons and a natural sweetener of your choice. Additionally, for our purposes, this is primarily a recipe to use after your surgery. While many women use it to help them reduce bloating during their periods on a regular basis, it is important that you not use it the week prior to your surgery. You could experience very painful acid reflux upon awakening from anesthesia if it's used within a week before your surgery. Also, if you are queasy after your surgery, wait until this feeling subsides to start using Lemon Tea.

   Lemon Tea really does work: You will be making frequent trips to the bathroom as your body eliminates the stored-up fluids. We recommend you drink this earlier in the day and not at bedtime, as drinking it at bedtime would most likely mean you would have to get up several times in the night.

   To prepare it, fresh lemons are the first choice, but juicing them sometimes can be hard right after your surgery. If you don't have anyone to help you, you can buy Minute Maid frozen lemon juice in the freezer section of your grocery store. This product is wonderfully convenient, and it has no preservatives. Do not buy "Real Lemon" (ReaLemon) in the bottles or the little plastic lemons in the produce section. You can also pre-juice lemons and fill ice-cube trays with the juice, which makes for an easy alternative to hand juicing fresh lemons after your surgery.

  If you dislike or are allergic to lemons, our alternate suggestion would be to keep your water intake at 10-12 glasses of water per day. This also will assist in flushing out your surgery medications as well as reducing edema, which will make you more comfortable -- it just will take more time. Ten to twelve glasses of water a day is definitely plenty. As with anything else, always check with your doctor first, as it is possible to drink too much water. You can create a life-threatening situation by flushing out your much-needed trace minerals by over imbibing. Balance is the key. You also could use cranberry juice, but you need a higher percentage of real juice than most of the bottled juices on the market, which are mostly sugar-laden. Read the labels.


 Add the juice of one lemon to 10-12 ounces of boiling water
or the juice of 1/2 lemon to 6-8 ounces of boiling water.
If you're using the Minute Maid lemon juice from the freezer section, 2 Tablespoons equal the juice of one lemon.
For frozen lemon juice 'ice cubes' that you make yourself, 1 cube should be sufficient per cup of water.

 Firmly roll the lemon with the palm of your hand on the counter to help release more of the juice before slicing it in half for juicing. You also can put it in a plastic bag and roll it under your foot to help release the juice before cutting if you have pain, mobility or strength issues.

  Sweeten to taste only with sugar, brown sugar, honey, real maple syrup or even 100% fruit juice. Stevia, available from a health-food store, is also a terrific alternative if it's something you are familiar with. We like Sweet Leaf's Stevia Liquid in Vanilla flavor.

 Do not use artificial sweeteners such as Equal, Aspartame, Sweet'n'Low, saccharin or Splenda at any time before or after your surgery. You do not want chemical additives in your body during this time. Please read information on Splenda before assuming it's natural and safe. It is produced by chlorinating sugar and chemically altering its structure. How it interacts with surgery medications and pain medications/antibiotics is another unknown.

 Usually one cup of Lemon Tea a day is plenty, along with approximately 8 additional glasses of water. We recommend using a "bending straw" to direct it to the back of your throat in order to keep it off your teeth, as lemon juice is very acidic and can etch your tooth enamel. Be sure to gently rinse your mouth and teeth with plain water after drinking lemon tea or when using a lot of lemon juice. Since lemon juice is powerful enough to temporarily raise the enamel on your teeth, it is very important to wait an hour or so before brushing your teeth so the enamel can re-calcify. Excessive amounts of lemon juice, or Lemon Tea, are not needed and are not recommended. One to two cups per day are sufficient, and remember to take the suggested precautions for your teeth.

  Many people ask if they can prepare it cold instead. Yes, you can. You can make "lemonade" with it and pour it over ice. While some feel it works better hot, we find it really depends on what time of year it is being consumed. People with summer surgeries prefer it cold. Those with winter surgeries prefer it hot. If you're using it cold and you're not getting the water retention relief you think you should, try it hot.

The Power of Lemons

Lemon can aid in the clearing of infections; it has antibiotic and antiseptic properties and can aid in digestion, as well. It can also aid in weight loss and reduce cellulite.

Lemon juice is helpful during cold and flu season; it is detoxifying and it stimulates the immune system.

Lemon juice is an astringent and can reduce acne and other skin disorders when taken internally or applied directly to the skin. It can lighten skin when applied topically as well. It is helpful for oily complexions. It strengthens skin function, assists in circulation, stimulation and purification. It helps promote collagen and elastin and aids in the health of connective tissue. It also promotes shiny, healthy hair and nails.

Lemon juice is also considered a scent that promotes relaxation. It's used as a sedative, antidepressant and calmative. It is helpful with fatigue and is a stimulant to the brain and nervous system. Squeeze and sniff a freshly washed lemon rind - it's a good thing!

In our case, we've found it to be a powerful diuretic, helpful to post-op patients to rid themselves of excess IV fluids and swelling caused by surgeries. We've had a few patients even have better diuretic effects from lemon tea than their prescription diuretics, and a few have had their doctors switch them over to lemon tea!

We've had some questions about limes. Limes have similar properties as lemons. We suggest using both if you're interested in using limes as well. Some members felt that lime in their water worked very well to reduce the inflammation of their incisions as well as helping with itching. It's worth a try!

  • Saturday, 16 June 2012