Used for centuries in Europe to treat swelling, soreness, and bruising, Arnica Montana (extract of the dried root and flower of the arnica plant and also known as leopard’s bane) can be used either by tablet or applied as a topical gel. I particularly like its oral form and have all of my Indianapolis plastic surgery patients take it sublingually (under the tongue) starting one week before and then one week after surgery as well. Patients should take 4 tablets under the tongue four times a day. The pills are very small and have no real taste to them so they are not unpleasant to take.
This homeopathic remedy is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and stimulates white blood cells to aid healing by eliminating excess fluid from the surgical area. To me, the more impressive property is its effect on decreasing bruising. Having used it in patients for years, there is no question that it decreases the amount of bruising that occurs after surgery as well as helps clear bruising that does occur faster. My patients frequently comment on how effective it has been for them. I have no hard scientific evidence that quantifies exactly how much it prevents bruising or how much better it clears bruising but my feeling is about 25 – 33% prevention and about 50% prevention.
Arnica is of particular value in all facial plastic surgery such as rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, and facelifts as well as liposuction body surgery. It is very inexpensive (less than $40 for 100 tablets) and has no real side effects so there is no reason not for the patient to take it. We keep a stock in the office so patients have easy access to it.
Dr Barry Eppley