I have thought about getting breast surgery for the past 10 years. I’m going to be honest with you, my boobs aren’t too bad, as they are now, but I have always wanted full bigger breasts (the feminist in me screams “why” but I push her opinion deep down).
Finally, after all this time it is happening! I am booked in for my surgery in February 2018.
As a naturopath, in my community this might be considered sacrilegious. To put foreign plastic object in my body all in the name of vanity is horrifying to some.
But I am a big believer in how you feel about yourself physically has a massive impact on how you feel mentally.
AND as a naturopath I look at everything from a holistic point of view, to be healthy AND happy is what matters.
I will also admit, possibly foolishly (I tend to get excited and jump into ideas pretty quickly) that I am getting married 9 weeks after surgery, so it is absolutely paramount that I am as physically prepared as possible so that there are no complications and I am as close as possible to being back to my old self by my wedding day (obviously there is a limit to that since some physical movements are restricted for a while after surgery).
I have read some horror stories about breast implant surgery, so I wanted to do everything in my power to prepare my body for this massive surgery and reduce the risk of any adverse effects. This is why I developed my “Holistic Plastic Surgery Preparation Guide”.
It’s pretty simple and it’s all about modulating the immune system, ensuring healthy gut permeability, reducing inflammation and ensuring my body has adequate nutrients to heal and recover from the surgery.
So here Is my holistic naturopathic guide to preparing for breast augmentation surgery, and plastic surgery in general.
The Holistic Guide to preparing for Plastic Surgery
3 Months out from Surgery Day: I recommend starting a minimum of 3 months from surgery, although this isn’t always realistic so just start utilising the interventions below as soon as you can, and I recommend cutting out all supplementation a minimum 2 weeks before surgery just to be safe. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the advice below, it is always best to speak to your surgeon.
Cut out Gluten: To support optimal gut health, reduce systemic inflammation and support both healthy gut permeability and healthy microbiome which in turn ensures optimal immune function. There are plenty of delicious gluten free grains and alternatives out there. Quinoa, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Millet, Brown Rice and Teff are all great options.
Eat plenty of prebiotic and resistant starch rich foods: These are needed as food for the microbes in our gut that make up our microbiome. Our microbiome has a massive impact on a range of chemical functions in the body, but particularly immune function.
Prebiotic Rich foods include:
- Raw Garlic
- Raw Onion
- Dandelion Greens
- Chicory Root
- Globe Artichoke
Resistant Starch Rich foods include:
- Overnight Oats (make sure they are gluten free): A super convenient dish to make for the next days breakfast, I add chia seeds, hemp seeds and raspberries for omegas, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits
- Potatoes that have been cooked and refrigerated overnight: hello potato salad
- Green banana flour: Add to smoothies and protein shakes
- Rice that has been cooked and refrigerated overnight: I do a nice rice salad with nuts and seeds for healthy fats, or homemade sushi rolls.
Eat lots of green leafy vegetables: Rich in magnesium, iron, vitamin A, K, C along with a wide range of antioxidant benefits. Ensuring we keep our nutritional status topped up with healing nutrients. Aim for at least 2-3 cups a day. Green smoothies and breakfast bowls are a delicious and easy way to get them into your diet.
- Broccoli leaves
- Romaine lettuce
Ensure you are getting enough protein:
Protein is vital for surgical recovery; it is not just for muscle building it is required for the building of white blood cells, essential for healthy immunity. A deficiency in protein means you will not heal as quickly or as well as you normally would. Because surgery puts the body into a catabolic state (breaking down of muscle and tissue) ensuring health lean body mass through protein intake and exercise is vital for recovery. Aim for 1gm of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. A simple protein shake once or twice a day will suffice for those who struggle to meet their protein requirements.
Eat plenty of zinc rich foods:
- Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
- Pine Nuts
- Dark Chocolate
Eat plenty of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods:
Essential not only for modulating the immune system, reducing inflammation around the surgical site, but to also enhance recovery. Plus they are great for anti-ageing and glowing skin. Aim for 1-2 serves every day.
- Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardine and mackerel
- Nuts and Seeds
This Is my favourite part, because I am a supplement junkie, but don’t worry I have narrowed this list down to only the most vital supplements for surgical preparation and recovery. Making sure our nutritional status is at an optimal level will enhance recovery dramatically.
Hydrolysed Collagen Powder: This has several benefits related to surgery and breast augmentation. It is super versatile, just add some to your morning coffee, tea or protein shake
- Improved skin hydration, elasticity and bonus, reduces the formation of wrinkles. It is important we nourish the skin, since again this will be stretched out to make way for the implant, ensuring we are reducing the risk of stretch marks and also severe scarring.
- Muscle health: A collagen deficiency can lead to substantial delays in healing post-surgery. It not only promotes wound healing, but also provides rapid restoration to damaged tissue and muscle. Meaning an enhanced recovery process.
- Dosage: 1 tablespoon/day
Vitamin C: This has an extremely important role in not only collagen synthesis, which as we saw above is essential for recovery, but also aids in the creation of new blood vessels, which may be required due to the trauma on the surround tissue due to surgery. It is vital we have a healthy blood supply to the area to ensure nutrients are delivered to the site. It is also essential to the proper healing of the incision site and boosts immune system, further enhancing recovery.
- Dosage: 1000mg/day
Iron: A deficiency of iron can result in impaired wound healing. This is because iron is part of a process that brings oxygen to the site of wounds and trauma, which is essential for recovery. A deficiency can also reduce the body’s ability to create collagen. Make sure when supplementing with iron your supplement contains no more than 30mg of elemental iron. This is because to high iron intake in the form of supplements can lead to constipation, as our bodies can realistically only absorb around 4-5mg of iron at a time. Also it is advisable to take your iron supplement with some form of vitamin c, since this is required for the absorption of iron.
- Dosage: 25mg/day (Take away from zinc since these affect the absorption of each other)
Vitamin E: Ensuring your stores of this nutrient are optimal will enhance wound healing and skin health and may reduce the amount of scarring that occurs. It is important to note Vitamin E should be stopped a minimum 3 weeks before surgery day.
- Dosage: 250iu/day
Zinc: This can be a common nutritional deficiency in many people. It can greatly enhance the rate of recovery, and also plays a vital role in not only inflammation but also helps prevent bacteria from forming in the surgery site.
- Dosage: 50mg/day (Always take zinc with a meal, taking on an empty stomach can cause nausea)
The following herbs can be brought in tablet form from most quality health food stores.
- Echinacea: This is a fabulous immune modulator, not only that it also stimulates the lymphatic system, assisting in moving lymph fluid around the body, enhancing our detoxification processes. Making sure our lymphatic system is in optimal condition is ideal, since most surgery’s will impact lymph vessels. This will help reduce the amount of swelling post-surgery, and fight off any infections. (Stop atleast 10 days before surgery, can start back up 2 days after surgery, away from prescribed medications).
- Withania: My most favourite herb ever, not only is it immune modulating, it acts as a potent anti-inflammatory. But most importantly it is a super hero adaptogen. Adrenal herbs play a significant role in trauma and surgery. They work by supporting the adrenal glands, ensuring we don’t pump out too much cortisol, which can hinder recovery dramatically if too high, by increasing inflammation and suppressing immunity. Getting your adrenal glands in shape before surgery Is important, and if you work long hours, have poor sleep, and a high stress lifestyle then an adaptogenic herb like Withania is essential for good health and optimal surgical recovery.
The exercises and guide below is mainly aimed at those undergoing breast augmentation, that being said, increased strength, flexibility and mobility regardless of the surgery, will enhance recovery greatly. Exercises can be altered to suit your ability and requirements.
Muscles and strength are often forgotten about when it comes to surgical recovery. The stronger and fitter we are the more enhanced our recovery will be.
In regards to breast augmentation it can take many months after surgery before we are fully able to utilise some muscles, so preparing not only the muscles that will be directly affected but also the ones that will need to step up and offer extra support is vital.
- Abdominal Exercises: You will be relying on your abs much more than usual in the first few weeks after surgery. Making sure they are strong and can support you is essential, to reduce pain and reduce the risk of straining the chest.
- Back Muscle Exercises: The first few weeks after surgery your sleeping arraignments will be altered, meaning you may have to sleep partially upright. Making sure you back muscles are strong and can support this awkward sleep angle, along with taking over from many of the duties your chest muscles had before they were temporarily impaired.
- Triceps: Mainly because you aren’t going to be able to work these out for a while, best to get them strong enough to survive a few weeks of inactivity.
- Reducing Chest Muscle Exercises: Whilst it is important our body strength is proportionate, I recommended reducing exercises that focus on the pecs. Either by cutting back on the weight you are lifting, or only doing 1-2 chest exercises per week. The pectoral muscles need to be stretched over the implant, so the stronger your pectoral muscles the tighter they are meaning that recovery will be much more uncomfortable with super tight pecs. I would also recommend stopping all chest based exercises 2 weeks before surgery.
Not only is this ideal for reducing pain and discomfort due to the restricted movement caused by surgery, it will allow for a speedier recovery.
- Chest stretches: This will ensure that the muscle has a greater ability of stretching and making room for the implant, thus reducing pain and speeding up recovery.
- Back stretches: Since we will be confined to sleeping in awkward positions for a number of weeks having the back as healthy as possible will reduce discomfort.
- Neck stretches: These a commonly very tight muscles in most people. Neck stretches are some of the recovery exercise recommended post surgery by most plastic surgeons. So having an improved basic range of motion in the neck means that doing the required exercises after surgery will be a lot easier, and a lot less painful.
This modality has a wide range of health benefits including improved flexibility, increased range of motion and also provides release to the myofascial, a forgotten organ that lies between the skin and the muscle. Having a healthy myofascial allows for greater muscle recovery. I recommended doing full body foam rolling to ensure proper structural balance within the body.
2 WEEKS FROM SURGERY DAY:
It is recommended to stop all supplementation other than vitamin c, magnesium, protein powder and collagen powder (these should be stopped the day before surgery) 2 weeks before surgery. This is to ensure that there are no adverse effects or interactions on surgery day. With that being said it is ideal to start taking a supplement called bromelain at this time.
Start taking Bromelian 10 days before surgery (500mg 2-3 times a day). Found in pineapple it is shown to speed healing whilst also reducing inflammation and bruising, meaning it may make the first few days after surgery just that little bit more bearable. It is recommended to discuss this with your plastic surgeon and get clearance before taking to ensure there are no interactions with your specific surgery. As always it is advised to discuss your plans with your surgeon so they can ensure no interactions with anaesthesia and other drugs that may be prescribed.
Part 2. Holistic post-surgery recovery guide coming soon.
This will include additional herbal medicines & nutritional supplements to take to enhance healing of tissue, muscle and capillaries, reduce the risk of infection, reduce swelling and inflammation, enhance immune system and help support liver and kidney function after an influx of toxins due to essential anaesthetic, pain killers and other required drugs.