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The importance of having optimal nutrition is so that your systems work at their peak efficiency. If you are undergoing surgery, you want peak immune function to prevent infection, peak clotting function to reduce bleeding and bruising, peak protein synthesis for collagen formation and repair and many other functions. Studies show adequate nutrition is critical for immune function and wound healing. Deficiencies of even single micro- or macro-nutrients results in altered immune responses even when the deficiency is mild.

It is well known that poor nutritional status of a patient undergoing surgery affects outcomes.  The studies below showed that IV nutritional therapy improved outcomes.

Bellantone R, Doglietto G, Bossola M, Pacelli F, Negro F, Sofo L, Crucitti F. Preoperative parenteral nutriton of malnourished surgical patients. Acta Chir Scand. Apr 1988;154(4):249-51

Rham D. A guide to perioperative nutrition. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. July-August 2004;24(4):385-390

Xu J. Yunshi Z, Li R. Immuno nutrition in Surgical Patients. Aug 2009;10(8):771-777

Beier-Holgersen R, Boesby S. Influence of postoperative enteral nutrition on postsurgical infections. Gut. 1996;39:833-835

Undergoing surgery with a nutrient deficit increases your risk. Surgical patients with malnutrition are 2 – 3 times more likely to have both minor & major surgical complications such as decreased wound strength, increased rates of infection, impeded or delayed wound healing, increased inflammation, increased bruising and increased risk of death. The length of hospitalization can be extended by 90% compared with the length of stay of well-nourished patients. Major surgery itself increases the risk of malnutrition because of the stress and resulting increase in metabolism using up nutrients to rebuild. This is made much worse, is if the surgery is on your digestive tract because digestion and absorption are further diminished. This is especially true for obese and overweight patients who are having bariatric (stomach bypass) surgery, Studies show the presence of nutritional deficiency (due to unhealthy diet) before surgery, which is made worse by bypass surgery. Plastic surgery outcomes are also profoundly affected by pre- and post-operative nutritional status. The number of patients with pre-existing nutritional deficiencies and health problems who are seeking cosmetic surgical procedures is growing.

So, what is pre- and post-operative IV nutrient therapy?

Pre- and post-operative IV nutrients supply your cells with the biochemicals (nutrients, cofactors, vitamins and minerals) necessary for their peak functioning, so that your risk of complications is diminished and your healing is optimal. It generally consists of one nutritional IV pre-operatively and one post-operatively as, well as, supplementation by mouth. The specific components and possibly the number of nutritional IVs will vary depending on your pre-operative health, nutritional status and other considerations. Are there studies showing the specific benefits? Yes, in addition to study results noted above that point up the risks of surgical outcomes associated with malnutrition, there are numerous reports that show significant improvement in surgical outcome with pre- and post-operative nutritional IVs. In one study, 30 surgical patients who received nutritional support had an 85% reduction in infections compared to 30 surgical patients given placebo. Because these patients were randomized, there was no preoperative distinction in their nutritional status. In another study, wound healing in nutritionally deficient patients given nutritional IVs was better than wound healing in healthy surgical patients that did not get IVs. These results alone have profound implications for all patients undergoing surgery.

  • Reduced bruising, swelling and inflammation
  • Faster wound healing – a nutrient & energy intense process beyond our normal everyday nutritional needs
  • Enhanced immunity and reduced infections
  • Less oxidative damage generated by surgery and anesthetic agents
  • Reduced post-operative complications
  • Less damage to surrounding healthy tissue

What should I do if I or someone I know is having surgery?

Nutritional IVs have been utilized for decades. This is, however, a growing area of medicine, and so your doctor may not yet be aware of its value. You may want to discuss this with your surgeon or primary care doctor. If so, here are some questions you may wish to ask:

  • “How does pre-operative nutritional status affect surgical outcome?”
  • “What do you know about pre- and post-operative nutritional therapy?”
  • “How does pre- and post-operative nutritional therapy affect post-operative infection rate?”
  • “How does pre- and post-operative IV nutrient therapy affect wound healing?”