Skip to main content
Douglas A. Taranow, DO, FACOS

New York, NY


Posted June 27, 2013 in Recovery

If you have had surgery, or are planning on having surgery, keep in mind that the foods you eat can make a great impact on your recovery and how quickly your wounds heal. Not only can eating the right foods help prevent complications, but it will also provide the necessary requirements your skin needs to heal quickly from the procedure.

Can a certain diet promote a better recovery?

Good nutrition and a proper diet are necessary for proper healing. When the body has undergone any surgery, it requires an increased amount of nutrients that will promote healing. It is essential to eat a variety of foods to get all lean proteins, vitamins, minerals, and calories needed to recover.

In June 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture replaced the food pyramid with MyPlate, the government’s primary food group symbol that provides an easy to understand visual of the portion of each food group that should be eaten every day.

Of course, the recommended diet prescribed by doctors is dependent on the health and circumstance of each individual patient. Doctors will often prescribe a specific diet and it is important to follow it as closely as possible, as this will help prevent infections and certain health complications.

What nutrients can help in the recovery process and will aid in the recovery time after surgery?

In addition to the increased need of calories and proteins during the healing process, the body also requires vitamins A and C and the mineral zinc. These nutrients play a vital role during recovery. In addition, consuming adequate amounts of high quality proteins may determine how well and how quickly surgical wounds may heal.

Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy skin, soft tissue, and mucus membranes. In addition, vitamin A is an antioxidant that can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are believed to contribute to certain chronic diseases and the aging process. Vitamin C helps to grow and repair tissues, heal wounds, and help build protein used to make the skin and blood vessels. Zinc is also very important for wound healing and helps keep the immune system strong by fighting off invading bacteria and viruses. Each of these nutrients is found in a variety of foods.

What foods contain these nutrients?

Whether eaten as a snack, blended in a smoothie, or combined in a salad, the following “power” foods are rich in nutrients and will aid in a quicker recovery.

Foods rich in Vitamin A

Liver (pâté), paprika, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, sweet potatoes, carrots (raw or cooked), butternut squash, apricots, and cantaloupe are just a few of the foods that are rich in vitamin A. Salads containing dark leafy greens, such as kale or spinach, are also a great choice.

Foods rich in Vitamin C

Along with spring greens, the best natural sources of Vitamin C are broccoli, blueberries, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, nectarines, papayas, mangos, guavas, grapefruit, peppers.

Foods rich in Zinc

Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods. From meats (chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and beef) to nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds), zinc is nutritious and hearty. This mineral is also found in beans, lentils, and many shellfish, such as oysters, crabs, clams, and mussels.

Foods rich in Protein

Many types of meat are abundant with protein. Make sure to choose lean cuts of beef, chicken, pork, or fish to properly help the body to heal. Dairy, eggs, beans, soy, and nuts are also a great alternative rich in protein for the non-meat eater.

If you are considering plastic or cosmetic surgery, please contact board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Douglas Taranow by calling (212) 772-2100 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Taranow will provide answers for any questions you may have and, together, you can discuss which procedure(s) will best obtain your desired results and what the recovery will entail.