Facial plastic surgery is usually an entirely elective procedure. You don’t need the surgery to save your life or to correct a serious medical issue, in most cases. Since you’re choosing to have the surgery for your own benefit, it’s often in your best interest to do what you can to make sure your body is as ready for the procedure as it can be.

Often, that means adjusting the medicines you take regularly in the weeks leading up to the surgery.

Certain common medications can actually put you at risk when you decide to have a facelift or rhinoplasty. Reviewing the medicines you take on a regular basis with your surgeon is an important part of the initial consultation. Your surgeon will let you know which drugs should be avoided, why, and for how long. He’ll also most likely recommend alternative medications to take if needed.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

There’s often a misconception that over-the-counter drugs are always safe to take. While you don’t need a doctor’s signature to purchase these medicines, you should still let him or her know if you take them and listen to any instructions or advice. A number of over-the-counter medications can thin the blood and increase your risk for bleeding during the surgery.

Many pain relievers, for example, act as blood thinners. They include aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. Generally, the only over-the-counter pain reliever doctors recommend before surgery is acetaminophen. Other medications that can create an issue before surgery include decongestants and other medicines that treat cold or allergy symptoms.


People often assume that herbal or vitamin supplements are nothing to worry about, since supplements are regulated as much as medications are. While there might be less regulation in the supplement world, they can present just as much risk to a patient as certain drugs. A number of supplements increase the risk for bleeding during surgery, for example.

It’s as important to mention any supplements you take to your surgeon during your consultation as it is to fully list all of the medications you take. Usually, surgeons will recommend avoiding taking certain supplements a few weeks before and after the surgery. Supplements that are generally discouraged, because they make bleeding more likely, include vitamin E, garlic pills, fish oils, and saw palmetto. Other supplements that are usually advised against before surgery include St. John’s Wort, which can create problems with the anesthesia or increase the length of time a person is sedated, and echinacea, which can increase your risk for infection by suppressing your immune system.

Handling Prescriptions

If you are on prescription medication that you need to take to control a serious health issue, it’s particularly important to work with both the plastic surgeon and your primary care doctor to figure out what to do. Generally, patients are advised against taking medicines that thin the blood, such as Warfarin or Coumadin, before their surgery. Depending on your situation, you  might be able to handle stopping your medication a few weeks before and after your surgery. It’s important to get your doctor’s okay, before doing so, though.

Prescription birth control might be another issue before plastic surgery. If your surgeon recommends stopping your contraceptive before your surgery, have another birth control method ready.

What to Take

In some cases, your plastic surgeon might recommend taking certain supplements or medicines in preparation for your surgery. For example, some surgeons advise their patients to take arnica starting a few weeks before surgery. Arnica is a herbal supplement that is linked to reduced rates of swelling. The herb is derived from a type of daisy and comes in several different forms, including pills and a topical cream.

Your surgeon might also recommend that you take vitamin C before your procedure. Vitamin C improves healing and offers some protection against infections. Only take as much as your doctor recommends, though, as getting too-high of a dose can cause side effects.

After the Surgery

After your surgery, it’s still important to avoid certain medicines, at least until your body has time to heal. There is still the risk for bleeding or infection in the first few weeks after the procedure. Only take medicines that are recommended by or prescribed by your surgeon. He or she will most likely write you a prescription for a pain reliever that is safe to take right after surgery. If you have any questions, you can always ask your surgeon. When in doubt, it’s best to ask first and take the medicine later.

A facial plastic surgeon in Virginia Beach, Dr. Kyle Choe is happy to discuss any concerns you have about medications and surgery. He can review your current medications and let you know what solution is best for you. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Choe, call his office at 757.389.5850 today.