Undergoing plastic surgery if you’re Diabetic

Is your diabetes stopping you from considering plastic surgery?

While diabetics do have an increased risk of complications from any type of surgical procedure, having diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean plastic surgery is off the table.

With careful planning, patients who have diabetes can still safely have plastic surgery, either here or abroad, if their diabetes is well managed.  To minimize risks, you, your diabetic doctor along with your plastic surgeon need to make sure that your diabetes is under good control before and after the procedure.

The key is to start planning well before your surgery date. This list can help you cover all the bases before and after your operation and improve your risk factors.

Before surgery

– Work with your doctor to develop a plan for getting your blood sugar in the best possible control several weeks before you have surgery. Having good control of your blood sugar will lessen the chance of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) reactions during your operation. Good blood sugar control also makes infections less likely and promotes healing.

– Make sure you surgeon is aware your condition. Especially if travelling abroad, they need to know all medication you are taking and may need medical clearance and updated reports from your regular doctor. Upon your arrival to Thailand, there may be additional testing required prior to your surgery such as a Blood Test for HbA1c and Fasting Blood sugar. These extra tests are not included your estimated price but your surgeon will advise beforehand if they are required.

– Top-notch nutrition, including high-quality protein, is also essential. Protein is an important component in the healing process and can help contribute to faster wound healing, stronger tissue at the surgical site and an increased ability to withstand the rigors of surgery.

– If you aren’t already exercising but you are able, you may want to start an exercise program after checking with your doctor. Making your body stronger is going to help you better tolerate your surgery and recovery.

-Try not to get overly stressed about your surgery. It is important to keep stress to a minimum because both physical stress (the surgery) and emotional stress (worrying, anxiety) can work against you by elevating your blood glucose levels.

-If you drink or smoke, this is the time to stop. Eliminating alcohol will help you better control your blood glucose and Quitting Smoking will help you return to breathing without oxygen or a ventilator faster.

After Surgery

– After surgery, the need for high quality nutrition and tight glycaemic control continues. Nutrition will provide the building blocks for healing and a normal glucose level will promote a quicker return to health.

– Tight control of glucose levels could potentially shave days or even weeks off of your recovery period when compared to recovery times with elevated blood glucose.

– Once the surgery is over and you are into your recovery phase, you will need to aggressively check for signs of infection in your healing wound, in addition to the normal checks you do (such as checking your feet for problems). If you have neuropathy, remember you may not feel pain until the infection is well established. You may want to take your temperature regularly as another way to detect infection.

– Prevent bedsores. Move around in bed and get out of bed frequently. If you have less feeling in your toes and fingers, you may not feel if you are getting a bed sore. Make sure you move around.

– After you leave the hospital, it is important for you to work with your primary care team to make sure your blood sugar continues to be well controlled, and have regular check ups to check how your incisions are healing.