In medicine today, the incorporation of holistic therapies and integrative medicine techniques are growing rapidly in virtually all fields of practice. As medicine turns to more alternative treatments and complementary therapies, the question that becomes rather natural to ask in my specialty of medicine is: How does plastic surgery fit into a world of holistic and integrative medicine? It’s a great question and here is some perspective from a plastic surgeon.
Many physicians today, both personally and professionally, apply a holistic and integrative approach to their own health and wellness as well as for their patients. This stems from a more modern way of thinking that instead of just treating every ailment with some drug or medical procedure, we can incorporate complementary, holistic and integrative therapies at the same time. Given this perspective, over the last few years some plastic surgeons have begun incorporating some holistic and integrative techniques. Let’s start with a very basic concept about plastic surgery. From a practical point of view, plastic surgery itself is not holistic or integrative, that is just a fact. The reality is that with anti-aging medicine and people striving to take better care of themselves both internally as well as externally, cosmetic surgery is here to stay. So how can a doctor take a holistic approach to plastic surgery with their patients? A plastic surgeon with a holistic approach can use techniques to complement procedures with natural preparations and post-surgery healing strategies.
The art of plastic surgery procedures is not just in the medical procedure or treatment itself, but also in the way the physician helps their patients prepare themselves for procedures and the way they advise a patient to take care of themselves when healing.
What does this really mean? A plastic surgeon who incorporates integrative techniques encourages patients, if time permits, to begin preparation four-to-six-weeks prior to surgery.
A typical prep could include working with a nutritionist for weight loss and overall health improvement, acupuncture treatments for improved pain management, reiki for stress reduction, and vitamin supplements and homeopathic medications before surgery to improve wound healing. Other times they will recommend a nutritional detox and/or lymphatic drainage. How a surgeon approaches each patient differs, but my experience over the years is that holistic and integrative preparation prior to procedures usually results in a quicker, less painful healing experience. Getting the mind and the body working together prior to surgery helps most patients heal after surgery.
As important as the procedure is in plastic surgery, the healing process is just as important. From the beginning of patient contact, a physician’s office can be proactive by introducing holistic and integrative approaches to assist with healing. These non-traditional techniques, as a follow on to cosmetic surgery procedures, may be one of the reasons that a patient may want to choose one plastic surgeon over another.