Acupuncturist Perspective for Pre & Post-surgical Management

Dear Readers,

Below you will find a guest blog post by Dylan Stein, MS, LAc . Dylan is an acupuncturist in New York City  specializing in men’s health, dermatology and pain management. He has written a short post here for my readers and also my patients about managing pain after surgery. I think you will like his suggestions.

Also, please visit his website to see if acupuncture might be of use to you.

Cosmetic surgery is an incredible advancement in the field of healthcare. So many people suffer from issues of low self-esteem and poor body image. Cosmetic surgery provides an opportunity to change this. There are a few ways you can prepare yourself and then manage unwanted symptoms naturally after surgery. The best things you can do to prepare for surgery are get adequate rest, eat a diet rich in vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates (high sugar snacks, baked goods made with white flour, and tropical fruits), and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day in the two weeks leading up to your surgery date. Sleep is a time for your body to heal and recoup lost resources. By getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night leading up to your surgery, you will have prepared yourself to start healing sooner.

A vegetable-rich diet will give your body the vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants it needs to heal from surgery. As I tell my patients, try to eat the rainbow. This means make sure you’re getting all different colored vegetables, with an emphasis on the dark leafy greens. Add these extra vegetables to your existing meal plans. Also, try to eat refined sugars and simple carbohydrates (they digest quickly into sugar) infrequently. Sugars like this promote inflammation, which will slow or inhibit proper healing after surgery. If you’re craving fruit, try to eat organic berries, pears and even roasted sweet potatoes for a healthier version of a sugary snack. Drinking enough water each day is incredibly important. We’re lucky in New York to have excellent tap water. Consider getting a filter to remove the chlorine before drinking. Do not drink distilled water. Tap water, even unfiltered tap water, is preferable to water bottled in plastic, which can be full of chemicals, which disrupt your hormones. Adequate water intake will help your body flush out toxins and keep your body fluids at the right levels.

I teach all of my patients undergoing surgery three different acupressure techniques. Acupressure works similarly to acupuncture, but doesn’t involve needles since it’s a massage technique. Acupressure is very safe. The only contraindication is to avoid the first technique I mention below if you are pregnant. Because this kind of acupressure is so safe, you can do this a few times a day or even hourly to help manage your discomfort. The first technique is called Massaging the Four Gates. It uses a point on each hand and each foot. The hand points, known as Large Intestine 4, are between the thumb and index finger in the fleshy muscle of the web. This point has a resonance with the face, so it is particularly good for anyone who has had cosmetic surgery in that area. Coincidentally, it is also a great point for sinus headaches and toothaches for the same reason. The second point in this pair is called Liver 3, which lies in between the foot bones that connect to the first and second toes. If you touch this area, you will feel a depression in which the point lies. This coupled point pair strongly stops pain by regulating the Qi (the body’s energy) and blood of the entire body. Since the foot points are not very easy to reach on your own, you can focus on the hand points during self-massage. Massaging these points can be done gently or strongly, whatever feels most comfortable to you. You can even push and hold the points strongly if the pain is intense.

The second technique will help with pain, but it also helps with agitation or nervousness. This can be useful right before surgery if you’re feeling anxious or after surgery to help calm your nerves. This is acupressure ear massage. Gently pinch your ear between your thumb and forefinger and massage with small circles. Pay attention to the entire ear. Use just your forefinger to work into all the nooks and crannies. Be gentle, but firm. If you have very cold hands, this will be less useful, so either ask a friend with warm hands to do it or run your hands under warm water to take off the chill. The third technique is for post-surgical nausea, and is called Massaging the Inner Gate. It utilizes a point called Pericardium 6, which lies two inches or so above the inside wrist crease on the forearm, right in the middle of all the tendons that move the hand and fingers. Motion sickness bracelets stimulate the same point. Apply gentle, but firm, pressure to this point if you’re feeling nauseated. Coincidentally, this point may also be useful for morning sickness. If your doctor says it’s OK, you can also apply some lavender essential oil to this point to help control the nausea.

My final tip for patients is not from the Chinese medicine repertoire, but from homeopathy. Before taking any medications or supplements, be sure to get your doctor’s OK. The use of a homeopathic remedy called Arnica Montana may be helpful to reduce swelling and bruising after surgery. The 30C concentration is usually adequate. Follow the directions on the label. Arnica is readily available in health food stores and some pharmacies.

Continuing the pre-surgery routines I mentioned above after surgery will also be useful to encourage healing.

I hope you found this information helpful. I wish you a speedy recovery.

Yours in health,

Dylan Stein, MS, LAc.
Dylan Stein Acupuncture
Follow Dylan on Twitter @citypuncture

About the author

Dr. Mordcai Blau is specialist in gynecomastia surgery and performs almost 300 gynecomastia surgeries each year. He has been published by the American Society for Plastic Surgeons as a gynecomastia surgeon. He has also been featured on The Learning Channel (TLC) as a male breast reduction surgeon. He is a surgeon's surgeon and has operated on and is highly recommended by other physicians-including plastic surgeons. Dr. Mordcai Blau is passionate about sharing his knowledge of expertise of gynecomastia and male breast reduciton surgery.

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