Research shows that nutritional status plays a major role in post-surgical wound care. It is well accepted that pre-surgical malnutrition can put a patient at increased risk of developing respiratory infection, wound healing complications, sepsis and prolonged hospital stay. (2) The amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in your body can profoundly affect the wound healing process. (3)
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body and are important in the wound healing process. (3) Carbohydrates that you consume are broken down into glucose, which make ATP, which transport energy within your cells for metabolism. ATP provides energy for the development of new blood vessels and deposition of new tissues during the wound healing process. Without adequate glucose to make energy, your body will use amino acids and proteins to do the job instead, which can be detrimental.
Protein and its amino acid components are equally important in the process of wound care, and a deficiency can impair blood vessel formation, the proliferation of fibroblasts, proteoglycans and collagen, which are important in the rebuilding of connective tissue, the intricate process of wound healing and the efficiency of the immune system. (3) Two amino acids that are vital to the wound repair process are arginine and glutamine. Arginine is required from your body during periods of growth, severe stress and injury, and has an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system and the wound healing process. Glutamine provides energy for rapidly proliferating cells in newly developing tissues and in the immune system, as a result of the wound healing process.
Fatty acids provide valuable energy to those undergoing wound healing and tissue repair. (3) Polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3s and omega-6s may have beneficial effects on wound healing, cell metabolism, gene expression and the development of new blood vessels at the wound site.
Several vitamins and minerals are also essential during the post-surgical wound healing process. (3) Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E are important in fighting damaging free radicals and boosting the immune system to fight infection. Vitamin A is important in the wound healing process, helping to build collagen. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and aids in many different ways in the process of tissue repair. Vitamin E protects the cells against oxidation, exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and may decrease the incidence of scarring. Likewise, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron have unique roles in wound healing as well.
If you are preparing for surgery, ask your doctor if he or she recommends a particular diet plan to follow for at least two weeks before surgery. When you are adequately nourished, you will have greater chances of an uneventful recovery, with a quicker wound healing time.