Nutrition prior to surgery

For a planned procedure usually clients tend to be fit and healthy, carrying little implication for nutritional intervention prior to surgery. Having a healthy balanced diet will provide sufficient nutrients to maintain health i.e. eat a variety of vegetables and fruits (at least five portions of different vegetables and fruits each day) and eat a balance of plant foods, protein and dairy (filling at least two thirds of your plate with plant foods and one third with protein foods like lean meat, fish, dairy or pulses).

What if it’s unplanned? Am I nutritionally at risk?

Nutritionally ‘at risk’ clients include those who:

- are of advanced age

- are currently or predicted to eat little or nothing for more than five days

- have taken < 60% nutritional requirements over the last 10 days

- have increased but unmet nutritional needs (e.g. during infection or inflammation).

These scenarios are unlikely in planned cosmetic surgery. You must inform your consultant if any of the above apply.  

Will weight loss improve my outcomes?

For cosmetic procedures such a the abdominoplasty, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons recently identified that long-term weight loss was more likely for women whose initial Body Mass Index was 24.5kg/m2 or greater, just under the borderline for overweight. If you are carrying more than 25% of excess weight, it may be necessary to lose weight prior to surgery, however your consultant will discuss this with you and determine the optimal amount of weight loss to achieve the best result for you.
Should I be taking any nutritional supplements?

If you are following a healthy balanced diet with a balance of foods from all food groups, it is unlikely you will need to take a nutritional supplement. High dose supplements may even be harmful to your health. Taking nutritional supplements is only recommended either to correct a known deficiency or where your GP has recommended them on an individual basis.

Herbal medicines of concern in those about to undergo surgery include; Echinacea, Ephedra, garlic, ginko ginseng, kava, St. Johns Wort and valerian. It is important that you inform your consultant of any medications, supplements or herbal remedies you are taking prior to your surgery.

Should I fast before surgery?

Fasting before surgery is now known to be associated with delayed recovery. Guidelines from the American Society of Anesthesiologists recommend consumption of clear fluids (including fruit juices without pulp) up to two hours before surgery, and a light breakfast (e.g tea and toast) six hours before the procedure. These newer recommendations improve patient comfort and reduce adverse outcomes.
In summary, ensure you are following a balanced diet including a combination of all four major food groups. Remember to inform your consultant of any nutritional supplements you are taking, or whether you feel you meet any of the nutritionally ‘at risk’ criteria.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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