Post-Surgical Support with Dr. Jessica Moore, ND
It is a miraculous thing to see an open wound, cut, burn or other broken tissue, reapproximate, heal and regain normal function. Think of the last time you had a paper cut. In the blink of an eye (or at least over a few days), the skin that was cut open comes back together and heals as if it never happened. Amazing! This is a wonderful example of the vis medcatrix naturae, or the healing intelligence and power that is naturally programmed and powered up in very cell of your body. Of course, not all wounds are as easily healed as a paper cut. Wound healing is a complex and dynamic process and occurs in a manner dependant on the nature of the wound, a person’s vitality, their nutritional health status and their immune system.
If you undergo a surgical process where the surgical site is clean and is approximated with sutures, staples, surgical glue or surgical tape, your wound will heal by a process called first intention or primary union. Other types of healing which involve higher levels of skin and tissue loss include wound healing by second intention (for example a pressure ulcer in which the edges of the wound cannot be approximated) or third intention (delayed wound healing to allow for drainage for example). Second and third intention healing have higher risks for infection and or complication. Healing by second intention is slower, involves more inflammation and granulation tissue and more often results in a scar or scarring.
Most planned surgeries involve healing by first or sometimes third intention. In any type of wound healing, a sequence of events occurs that includes at minimum: initial hemorrhage and clotting, an inflammatory phase, epithelial changes (skin cells proliferate and migrate towards the incisional space, granulation tissue (cells and connective tissue that helps to fill in and close the gap) and vascular/scar formation. This very medical sounding process happens without you trying, asking or even knowing about it. However, your body requires specific nutrients, and resources to do this. Collagen fiber and proteoglycan synthesis (making new connective tissue) requires 1) nutrient building blocks in the form of amino acids and 2) vitamins and minerals necessary for enzymatic reactions involved in connective tissue repair and re-building. In fact, the degree of repair and restoration can depend on a person’s nutritional status and biochemical state. Some of the star players include:
Amino acids are protein building blocks. We make some amino acids and we get the rest in our diet. Amino acids are used to build collagen fibers. Collagen fibers give connective tissue its tensile strength. Glycine (an amino acid) accounts for almost 1/3 of the amino acid content in collagen. Proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are also prevalent.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid (AA), is vital for collagen synthesis but it is also involved in all phases of wound healing. Clinically, it has been shown to provide significant improvement in the quality of newly synthesized collagen and accelerate wound healing. Alb et al 2017 stated: “ In fact, vitamin C is critical to wound healing; in addition to its importance in serious illness, patients can benefit substantially from vitamin C administration even after elective operations” Deficiencies in vitamin C are associated with poor collagen formation and delayed wound healing.
Vitamin A deficiency has been shown to impair wound healing. Vitamin A is thought to act through the central role that the immune system plays in wound healing, specifically with regard to macrophagic inflammation.
Zinc is a mineral that is essential to human health. Like vitamin C, it is involved regulating every phase of the wound healing process. This includes membrane repair, oxidative stress, coagulation, inflammation and immune defence, tissue re-epithelialization, forming new blood supply to new connective tissue and fibrosis/scar formation. Studies over the last 50 years have demonstrated the important role that zinc plays in wound healing.
Bioflavinoids are found in fruit and veggies. In wound healing, they act to modulate inflammation and activate collagen cross-linking. Collagen cross-linking results in a scaffolding for the new connective tissue.
What you can do
Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, and whole grains will help to support adequate nutritional health. However, if your gastrointestinal tract isn’t functioning optimally with its ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients, if your stress levels are elevated or if you have other conditions that might impact your nutritional health or ability to undergo optimal wound healing, you may need further support. My focus post-surgery usually involves some or all of the following approaches:
Let’s rebuild, revitalize and restore! You deserve the very best. For more information on post-surgical support or how to live your healthiest life, I invite you to come and work with me.
Call to schedule (604) 670-0590 or click to book.
In good health,
Dr. Jessica Moore, ND
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