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Foods That Can Help You Heal

By Robert Kotler, MD, FACSFebruary 4, 2010
From the WebMD Archives

How You Can Help Your Healing After Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

Last week, on the Today Show, Leslie Goldman, a well- known medical writer and the author of The Locker Room Diaries, discussed how various foods may aid one’s health and even healing after any surgery.

Leslie even discussed how certain foods reduce swelling and bruising post-operatively.

Leslie mentioned that she learned – from yours truly – that fresh papaya and fresh pineapple are very helpful in reducing the swelling and bruising after rhinoplasty. Many friends and patients called the office and e-mailed saying how much they enjoyed seeing that segment.

The fact is, as indeed Leslie explained, certain foods do have specific properties which aid in the resolution of bruising particularly. Remember that bruising occurs after injuries in general and after surgery, specifically, because there is a leakage of blood from veins and arteries which are inadvertently opened during the course of surgery. Often these veins and arteries are nearly invisible. What is bruising anatomically? Bruising is merely blood-staining of tissue, just under the skin. While circulating blood is bright red, the blood that has escaped blood vessels and leaked into the skin at the surgical site has turned color, dark purple or reddish-purple. That’s because these red blood cells no longer have access to oxygen.

What follows in every patient, is that the body, recognizing injury and blood leakage outside of the blood vessel system, sends certain scavenger elements to the site to digest the blood. In the course of digestion, the color of the blood changes from dark purple or reddish-purple to green and then to yellow as Nature performs the biochemical miracle of tissue debris-hauling and then repair.

Papase, a natural enzyme found in fresh papaya and fresh pineapple, aids the body’s the digestion of the noname papase, since that enzyme is also used commercially in meat tenderizer, such as Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer, the economical homemaker’s good friend. The enzyme papase digests some of the fibrous tissue which would otherwise make meat tougher.

Many patients feel it is no burden to enjoy flavorful fresh pineapple and fresh papaya that are in ample supply year round. As part of a healthy post-operative diet, it make sense.

That post-opertive diet should include plenty of protein, the building block of tissue repair. Lean meat, fish, nuts, and dairy food. Also be sure to take vitamin supplements if your diet is not complete. Lots of liquids, of course, particularly fruit juices since they are a good insurance policy against constipation, the old nemesis.

Why concern over constipation? Two reasons. First, people are not as physically active immediately after surgery. Second, pain medications after surgery predispose to constipation. So fresh fruits and fruit juices, fresh vegetables, lots of liquids of any kind are the order of the day. Once the patient is up and about, the colon becomes more active and the incidence of constipation lessens.

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