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Herbal supplements, a smoking gun in plastic surgery

Natural herbal supplements are supposed to help boost our immune systems, give us more energy and make us generally healthier. However, many of these "harmless" supplements could cause dangerous side effects during plastic surgery, reports a study in February's Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In fact, the study found approximately 55 percent of plastic surgery patients, compared to 24 percent of the general public, take supplements but often do not tell their surgeons.

"When patients are asked about the medications they are taking, many do not mention medicinal herbs because they assume that they are safe," said ASPS member James Bradley, MD, study co-author, University of California, Los Angeles. "What many unsuspecting patients don't know is that the natural herbs they are taking may cause serious complications during and after surgery."

All 55 percent of plastic surgery patients who used herbal supplements took at least two different supplements and at least one on a daily basis. The most popular herbal supplements were chondroitin (18 percent), ephedra (18 percent), echinacea (14 percent) and glucosamine (10 percent).

  • Chondroitin is often used to treat osteoarthritis. People using chondroitin may suffer from bleeding complications during surgery, particularly when used in combination with doctor-prescribed blood-thinning medications.

  • Ephedra has been known to promote weight loss, increase energy and treat respiratory tract conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. This agent has been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because it can raise blood pressure, heart rate and metabolic rate, ultimately causing heart attacks, heart arrhythmia, stroke and even death.

  • Echinacea is often used for the prevention and treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections, as well as chronic wounds, ulcers and arthritis. How
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  • Contact: LaSandra Cooper
    media@plasticsurgery.org
    847-228-9900
    American Society of Plastic Surgeons
    13-Feb-2006


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