Medicines to avoid before cosmetic surgery

Every time you are contemplating cosmetic plastic surgery or, for that matter, any type of surgery, there are important and specific instructions you will be given by your plastic surgeon that are important to follow.

Of great importance are the instructions you will be given about what types of medicines to avoid in the few weeks leading up to your surgery. Different medicines will have effects on your healing that can be detrimental and in some cases disastrous. Interaction of cosmetic surgery and drugs is important to your surgery results.

NSAIDs – non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

These drugs include Aspirin, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Naproxin, Aleve and Midol, among others. These are some of the most commonly used medications and are used routinely by millions for headaches and other aches and pains. Using them before and after your surgery will give another type of headache for your plastic surgeon and you.

NSAID drugs all have the particular side effect of stopping clots from forming. This very characteristic is used to prevent clots and the heart attacks and strokes that are caused by them. Hence the baby aspirins you may be taking.

Hematoma, thinning the blood

The inability of the blood to form clots in effect thins the blood and can cause bleeding after surgery. In plastic surgery procedures in particular, large areas of skin are usually moved about, and the resulting large wounds are particularly sensitive to the possibility of bleeding.

Blood accumulation under the skin, a hematoma, will tense the skin, put pressure on the feeding blood vessels and can lead to death of the skin.

Avoid taking these types of medicines for at least two weeks before your cosmetic surgery and at least for two weeks after. Even one pill can have an effect!

 Narcotics, anti-depressants and alcohol

Any drug that alters your brain functioning for the better or worse has the ability to also harm respiration. This decrease in breathing along with the medications you will be taking for pain control after surgery may decrease your rate of breathing to such a point that you stop breathing completely—not a good outcome.

It is important that you tell your plastic surgeon what medications you are taking, avoid taking those you are told to stop taking and also to abstain from alcohol use while taking narcotics.

Alcohol also has an effect in thinning the blood and making you more prone to bleeding after surgery.

Vitamins and herbal medications

Few studies have been performed on the vitamins and herbal supplements that so many people take every day.


We know that in small doses, most vitamins—a daily multi-vitamin, for example—have no real effect on plastic surgery. We also know that large amounts of some vitamins, such as vitamin E, can lead to bleeding problems after plastic surgery. I tell my patients to stop all extra supplements of vitamins for a week before and after surgery.

Herbal supplements

Even less research has been done on the effects of herbal supplements. We do know that some supplements, such as St. John’s wort, can cause severe bleeding after surgery. In contrast, supplements such as Bromolyn and Arnica can actually decrease brusing and swelling.

The important thing to do is to make your plastic surgeon is aware of the medicnes you are taking and have your surgeon guide you as to which to take and which to avoid.

There are multiple variables that will effect your cosmetic plastic surgery results. Eliminating problems that can be minimized by judicious use of medicines will only help with your results.

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon