I have heard some people mention taking Bromelain and Arnica for swelling and pain relief after the surgery. Do they help?

I am getting a Tummy Tuck with Lipo to flanks and back. 

Doctor Answers 8

Bromelain and Arnica

The use of Bromelain and Arnica for swelling and pain relief after surgery is controversial.  There is not enough conclusive evidence to recommend using either in my practice.  Ask your surgeon for their opinions on the matter.

I have heard some people mention taking Bromelain and Arnica for swelling and pain relief after the surgery. Do they help?

Arnica Montana is a homeopathic drug that is claimed to reduce bruising and swelling. Anecdotally, many patients and plastic surgeons feel that Arnica does have a benefit. There are, however, conflicting reports in the valid scientific literature about these claims. Bromelin (Bromelain), another homeopathic medication, is a mixture of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples and also purported to reduce swelling, bruising, inflammation and pain after surgery. This supplement, which is often taken along with Arnica, is also controversial with regard to efficacy.

I would suggest you find a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and ideally a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) that you trust and are comfortable with. You should discuss your concerns with that surgeon in person. It is critical that he or she should be aware of all medications, supplements, minerals, vitamins, and herbs that you are taking, because they may interfere with normal blood coagulation, healing, and anesthesia.

Robert Singer, MD FACS

La Jolla, California

Robert Singer, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Do Arnica and Bromelain help reduce swelling and pain?

Bromelain has some anti inflammatory characteristics and its enzymatic action (when taken without food) will help to minimize the dark red/purple stain of bruising. We suggest patients begin it's use several days before their procedure and for several days post op. Arnica, however, we do not recommend prior to surgery as it has some tendencies to thin blood. We recommend patients use it only after surgery.

Dr. Steve Byrd

Steve Byrd, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

I have heard some people mention taking Bromelain and Arnica for swelling and pain relief after the surgery. Do they help?

There is no scientific evidence that Arnica works and in fact there are some good studies that show it has no effect on bruising. There is little evidence that bromelain is effective, but more studies are needed. You will find many doctors recommend things for their patients to take simply because the patients think they work and it doesn't hurt them. So if you want science, then don't waste your money on these things. But if you feel they will work for you and it does no harm to take them, then go ahead because it makes you feel better and that alone is worth something as any doctor will tell you. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Do Arnica and Bromelain help?

Thank you for your question.  In my practice, I've found that Arnica and Bromelain do help in the reduction of bruising and swelling.  Be sure to consult with an experienced board certified plastic surgeon.  Good luck!

Zachary Farris, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Do Arnica and Bromelain help?

Yes, Arnica Montana and Bromelain do help with reduction of bruising and swelling, respectively, following surgery.  They do not help with pain relief.  

Todd C. Case, MD
Tucson Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

I have heard some people mention taking Bromelain and Arnica for swelling and pain relief after the surgery. Do they help?

Yes, they do help. Arnica helps with bruising and comes in an oral form or topical gel. Bromelain helps with swelling. Good luck with your procedure!

Bromelain or arnica after tummy tuck?

Both bromelain (derived from pineapple) and arnica (a herbal product from a mountain flower of the same name) are homeopathic remedies that are marketed for treatment of pain and bruising after surgical operations. There are very few studies reported in the medical literature to clearly indicate whether either agent is superior to treatment WITHOUT these agents. They certainly do no harm. Those patients of mine who use them, particularly arnica, are very loyal to these agents: they "swear" by them and support the effectiveness. You should ask your plastic surgeon for an opinion of this matter. Even more important are which therapeutic medications, supplements, vitamins and herbal remedies you use and whether any of these should be discontinued prior to your surgery. Some are mild blood thinners and may compromise the speed of your post-operative recovery if not stopped before operation.

Tad Grenga, MD, FACS
Norfolk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.