C for Surgery? Antioxidants may speed recovery, finds study

Surgery patients who take vitamin C and other nutrients may recuperate faster, say researchers from the University of Texas. A study published in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found patients healed 17% faster by taking a special mixture of bromelain, vitamin C, rutin and grape seed extract.

“We were completely surprised that this combination of supplements actually reduced the recovery time for our patients,” said Rod Rohrich, MD, co-author of the study. “Based on our findings, plastic surgeons can provide an even greater proactive approach to caring for patients and ensuring a greater degree of success to help their wounds heal.”

“Previously, it would generally take 18 days for a patient to recover from a plastic surgery procedure, such as a facelift,” said James Chao, MD, another co-author. “By taking these supplements right after the procedure, patients can fully heal in just 15 days.”

In the study, 82% of the participants benefited from taking the supplements during the early phase of the healing process, which accelerated the soft-tissue wound healing compared with subjects who received the placebo.

Doctors Rohrich and Chao observed decreased redness in the wound for subjects receiving the supplement, indicating that the supplement cocktail more than likely changed the inflammatory process. As with all wounds, if the wound stays inflamed longer, it takes longer to heal. All of supplements included in the mixture are antioxidants, which enhance cellular stability and decrease swelling.

“This study is a bridge towards discovering if any of these individual supplements have merit separately or combined together,” said Dr Rohrich. “Only through further study can we discover how these antioxidants work to shorten recovery time for patients.”

American Society of Plastic Surgeons, July 1, 2004