Will plastic surgery affect my immune system?

22 January 2021

Blood cells travelling through an arteryBy plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

For those who have been considering plastic surgery, it's understandable for you to be wary about the potential impact a surgical procedure could have on your immune system.

During a plastic surgery procedure the skins surface is penetrated and the body's immune system immediately reacts to this by kicking the healing process into gear and doing all it can to fight off the risks of infection. Despite your immune system being called into action, it's important to note that this doesn't mean it's automatically negatively affected - though the more robust your immune system is, the better and more efficient it will be at reacting and recovering.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to better prepare your immune system for plastic surgery, much of which involves the same best practices that can help it fight off other infections. The immune system is incredibly complex, but here are the key things you can focus on to help it be better prepared:

Improve your quality of sleep

Our body requires sleep due to its many benefits. Without enough sufficient sleep, the body will struggle to protect itself from infections and the overall healing process will be far slower and less efficient at facing and fighting any difficulties that could potentially emerge.

To improve your quality of sleep, and in turn help aid your body and immune system throughout the recovery process following a plastic surgery procedure, consider the following:

  • Follow a regular sleep pattern each night as closely as possible
  • Spend less time on your mobile phone or computer/laptop (known as nighttime blue-light exposure) in the final hour before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Try winding down before sleep, such as taking a bath, reading a book or listening to calming music

Reduce stress levels

It's difficult to directly measure a link between stress and the body's immune system, but science does tell us that stress typically suppresses the response level of the immune system. Of course, learning to manage stress levels is easier said than done, but according to Harvard Medical School there are several methods that can help achieve this when practiced regularly. 

These include:

  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Performing yoga or other similar practices or disciplines
  • Repetitive prayer
  • Guided imagery

Follow a healthy diet

The nutrition your body receives from the food that you eat also plays an important role in how effectively it can repair itself following a surgical procedure. Artificial trans and saturated fats make it more difficult for white blood cells to put up an army of defence, while inflammatory foods like processed meat and sugary refined carbohydrates, as well as alcohol intake, can also negatively impact immune response and hinder the healing process.

A diet that's full of immune-boosting goodness should contain plenty of leafy greens, fish, berries, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, and whole, fresh foods. It's also important to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water to help transport all the goodness around the body.

Perform regular exercise

Regular exercise helps to boost immunity and increases blood circulation which aids the healing process, but it's not something you can just plan to do a few days before your surgery date - you'll need to have an exercise plan in place for a prolonged period of time (ideally several months) to truly experience the full benefits exercise can have on the immune system. Exercise will not only help with your health and recovery, it'll also lift your mood and improve many other aspects of your life.

Have you been considering plastic surgery? I offer a wide range of procedures here at Harley Street Aesthetics, including my signature procedures and a range of non-surgical procedures. To discuss your options in more detail don't hesitate to book in your initial consultation by calling 0845 519 7232, e-mailing info@harleystreetaesthetics.com or by completing the online contact form.


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