Dr Jorge Zafra and Dr Kam Singh share their dietary advice for patients who have undergone a body contouring procedure
After a body contouring treatment, recommending appropriate aftercare advice to your patients is crucial to a speedy recovery and the avoidance of potential side effects or complications. Providing detailed dietary advice can have a significant impact on patients’ aesthetic outcomes.
In my role as a VASERlipo surgeon, alongside Dr Kam Singh, who is a national trainer, we have developed an aftercare diet plan to improve patients’ results, delivering a holistic approach to body sculpting. The plan has been developed to be implemented specifically after VASERlipo, however it can also be used in combination with other body contouring treatments such as cryolipolysis, ultrasound or radiofrequency treatments.
Why is nutrition important after a body contouring procedure?
Non-surgical body contouring treatments are an excellent way to get rid of the excess body fat in specific areas and eliminate some fat cells. However, in no way are they able to completely prevent weight gain in the future, as it is the individual’s responsibility to maintain the results achieved with the treatment.1
Adults have a fixed amount of fat cells in their body that body contouring treatments aim to eliminate permanently; although, if a patient does not follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, the remaining fat cells in the body can develop and contribute to weight gain. From my clinical experience, it has been noted that patients who don’t modify their daily routine with healthy habits after liposuction procedures will have a propensity to gain weight in parts of the body that were not treated and were not previously problematic.2 Patients will therefore also achieve more successful results after treatment if they develop healthy living habits.
The following recommendations are to be carried out in conjunction with the routine aftercare of VASER and other liposuction procedures. You must make sure that the patient is not allergic or sensitive to the supplements, oils and foods recommended.
What should the patient eat after treatment?
A body contouring procedure may be taxing on a patient’s body, so they will need to make wise food decisions so that the tissues and skin can heal better during the recovery period. The body needs proteins to generate new cells, and eating foods high in protein can help the overall recovery process as proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.3
Eating smaller portions throughout the day and avoiding overly-processed foods can help maintain the weight with ease. A diet comprising the following foods that have a higher content of protein may help maintain the results if combined with a regular exercise routine.
Recommended sources of protein
Lean meat (beef), fish (salmon or tuna) or poultry (chicken or turkey)
Vegetable source proteins (soy beans, nuts, lentils and chick peas)
Dairy proteins (Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese)
Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal)
Vegetables and green leaves
Fresh and dried fruit
Use of olive oil, coconut oil and ghee butter
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and helps to maintain a good metabolism, so you should definitely advise patients not to skip this.5 Starting the day with a tea instead of a coffee is highly recommended, as drinking coffee first thing in the morning stimulates hydrochloric acid production which, over the course of the day, can lead to lower absorption of proteins.6 Recommend a morning tea that is high in antioxidants and that has a natural diuretic effect; it will help detox the body from the toxins after treatment and reduce fluid retention. Drinking plenty of water and walking is also essential.
An ideal supplement to help with the regeneration of skin cells is vitamin C, so we advise an intake of 500mg in the morning and 500mg in the evening. Daily sufficient vitamin C intake is 100-300 mg/day, but oral dose is limited by intestinal absorption so by taking a 500mg tablet of vitamin C twice a day, we reach the recommended daily level and avoid higher doses in tablet form that are likely to cause diarrhoea.7
Patients should ensure that they are getting the recommended daily levels of vitamin C, which is 100-300 mg/day through their diet or additional supplements
For lunch, eating proteins and carbohydrates as well as vitamins is important and adding a side salad is a good choice. When cooking the meals, we advise using a griddle instead of frying. In addition, having fresh undercooked vegetables is advisable as cooking vegetables changes their chemical composition, lowering antioxidant compounds (especially water-soluble and heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C, glucosinolate, and polyphenols) and their bio-accessibility.8 Patients should ensure that they are getting the recommended daily levels of vitamin C, which is 100-300 mg/day through their diet or additional supplements.7
Eating salads and protein in smaller portions for dinner is advisable. Likewise, olive oil and lemon juice are good seasonings.9
Advise the patient to reduce salt consumption and replace normal table salt that has been manufactured for sea salt. Suggest that the patient avoids all processed foods, white sugar, milk and all white flours as these have higher concentrations of sodium and additives that are likely to cause fluid retention.9
After the completion of the diet plan, we encourage that patients continue with healthier lifestyle and diet choices. To sweeten food and drinks, replacing sugar with natural honey sugar is ideal. A tablespoon of raw honey contains 64 calories, is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free. Its composition is roughly 80% carbohydrates, 18% water, and 2% vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.9 Some other general recommendations are as follows.
Benefit: high protein content
Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine of the essential amino acids. It contains a high amount of fibre and is known to relieve constipation. Quinoa also contains iron and lysine (which is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair), is rich in magnesium, high in riboflavin (B2), and has a high content of manganese, which is an antioxidant.3,4
Benefit: helps prevent weight gain
Chia seeds deliver a massive amount of nutrients with very few calories. They contain a decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2. They also contain fibre, protein Omega-3, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.3,4
Benefit: depurative and digestive
Hibiscus tea is high in vitamin C and has a natural diuretic effect, helping reduce the fluid retention and depurating toxins. It is also used as a laxative or a digestive supplement, which could help you avoid surgery-related constipation. Additionally, you can use hibiscus tea to alleviate menstrual cramps, normalise high blood pressure, help purify arteries and kidneys and lower high cholesterol.3,4
Benefit: diuretic, high fibre content, antioxidant, helps avoid constipation
The phytonutrients in artichokes (100g) provide potent antioxidant benefits, have dietary fibre, and provide around 12% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, folic acid, and vitamin C.3,4
Benefit: vitamins, antioxidant, high fibre content
These berries contain eight of the nine essential amino acids. A single four-ounce serving provides nearly 10% of your daily protein intake (0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight). For fruit, this is a surprising amount of protein. They are also a source of vitamin C, fibre, iron, vitamin A, zinc, and antioxidants and the carbohydrates in goji berries are complex carbs. This means your blood sugar will rise slowly, reducing your risk of a sugar crash afterwards.10
Masala chai tea
Benefit: antioxidant and digestive
Improving digestion, chai enhances the immune system, fights inflammation and has antioxidant properties. It has also been suggested that chai has antibacterial and anti-cancer effects. The black tea in chai is rich in antioxidants and the spices in chai have been used for thousands of years to promote general health and well-being, as well as to treat various ailments.3,4
Eating a healthy, balanced diet has a positive effect on the overall health and wellbeing of the patient, not only on their weight. Introducing a diet plan that is balanced and nutritious, while being rich in protein and vitamins following a body contouring procedure, will improve aesthetic results and help to ensure that patients do not gain weight in untreated areas that were not previously problematic.
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