THE BLOG
07/19/2012 02:59 pm ET | Updated Sep 18, 2012

Surgeon Secrets to Reduce Bruising and Swelling

Surgeons have long known about the anti-inflammatory properties of certain fruits and plants that are considered beneficial to intervene in the postoperative bruising and swelling process. The specific substances are bromelain and quercetin, which are found in pineapples, capers, apples, and red onions, to name a few.

Nearly any surgery (from foot surgery to plastic surgery) can result in bruising and swelling, which is a normal part of the healing process. Depending on the procedure, swelling and bruising can be quite excessive and visible. While there is no "cure," both doctors and patients take steps to minimize the effects to expedite overall recovery.

Surgeons are very mindful of swelling, because excessive swelling can lead to complications such as incision breakdown and poor result. Wounds that open may lend themselves to infection. Of course, complications may lead to unsightly outcomes as well.

  • Bromelain is derived from pineapples (actually the stem), and is a potent enzyme that has anti-inflammatory properties and plays a role in reducing bruising and swelling.
  • Quercetin is plant flavanoid derived from fruits with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Foods with high amounts of quercetin include: capers, apples, red oninion, citrus fruit, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Surgeons may recommend their use through certain foods or through use of specific dietary supplements.* Whether you ingest bromelain-quercetin through dietary changes or with supplements, you should be cautious to add these anti-inflammatory agents properly to your diet. Bromelain-quercetin is only to be used after a surgery or medical procedure, because they may cause bleeding if taken prior to surgery, and can lead to complications.*

    What is R.I.C.E.? There are other methods that surgeons use to mitigate bruising and swelling. Health care professionals often recommend the pneumonic "RICE," which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation -- and this needs to be specifically tailored to your procedure. For open procedures, techniques exist for surgeons to limit bleeding, which may limit postop bruising. Even the dressings placed by surgeons often are placed in such a way to provide compression. Ice is helpful in postop swelling and bruising but should be used cautiously and under the instruction of your doctor, because ice can constrict blood vessels and cause permanent damage. In some cases, doctors prescribe anti-inflammatory medication post-operatively.

    While bruising and swelling is a normal part of healing, there are methods to limit that bruising and swelling while still supporting healing. Patients may want to talk with their doctors about methods and diet supplementation that can be used to support the bodys natural response to healing to optimize their experience and outcome.

    -- Dr. Blitz

    Dr. Neal Blitz (www.nealblitz.com) is the Founder & President of Surgery Vitamin, LLC. To learn more about Surgery Vitamin Products, visit www.surgeryvitamin.com

    *Disclaimer: This information is educational, informational and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. It does not constitute medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

    For more by Neal M. Blitz, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., click here.

    For more on personal health, click here.

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