Should I Take Vitamins, Supplements or Follow a Special Diet to Help My Body Better Heal from Surgery?

Question: Should I take any vitamin or herb supplements or follow a special diet to help my body better heal from surgery?

Answer: After surgery, your nutritional status -- what you can consume in terms of food -- will differ based on the kind of surgery that you had. If you had intestinal surgery, it would be different than if you had breast surgery. So, you really need to speak with your healthcare professionals and get very specific information before you leave the hospital about how to advance your diet. Very often people go home, they're still on a full liquid or a light diet, and it's very important to stay within those parameters.

As far as supplements are concerned, again, it very much depends on the site of the surgery, the reason for the surgery, how things went post-operatively, so it's very individualized. Seeing a nutritionist or a dietician while you're in the hospital is very helpful. You can ask to see one, even pre-operatively, who can help you make decisions about post-operatively what will work at home, and that will include recommendations for supplements.

As far as alcohol is concerned, any alcohol intake is always controversial. I know that most of the recommendations say moderate, but alcohol does interfere with some body processes, and so after surgery I'd be very careful about alcohol consumption and, again, speak with my healthcare professional about that.

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