What if we told you that you could drastically improve your recovery after cosmetic surgery with just one simple step?

No, this isn’t a too-good-to-be-true, magical remedy you might see on a late-night infomercial. It’s actually simple: Eat healthy.

A lot of preparation happens before cosmetic surgery. Hours researching treatments, doctors and going to consultations. But not everyone thinks about what they will eat after surgery. That can be a big mistake.

“The metabolic requirements of your body after surgery go up exponentially,” said Dr. Gregory Buford, a Denver plastic surgeon, and author of Eat, Drink, Heal: The Art and Science of Surgical Nutrition. “They essentially double.”

Eating healthy food and giving your body proper nutrients plays a major role in recovery. A nutritional deficiency will impede your ability to heal, but not many people feel up to cooking in the days after surgery.

Without a meal plan, Dr. Buford said people either don’t eat enough, eat unhealthy meals because it’s easier, or push themselves too hard when they should be relaxing and recovering.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips on how to eat healthy after surgery.


Related: Why eating healthy helps you heal after plastic surgery


Prepare high-protein meals 

Your body needs a lot of protein to recover, but cooking pounds of chicken sounds like one of the least-desirable activities after surgery.

Dr. Buford recommends cooking before surgery and portioning the food into individual meals. That way everything is ready and you simply have to reheat, rather than fully prepare. 

Meal prep. Meal prep. Meal prep.


Check ingredients

That microwaveable frozen dinner might seem like a great, easy option after surgery. But it could do more harm than good for your recovery process.

“It’s really important to know what you’re eating and the quality of the ingredients,” Dr. Buford said.

While there might be pre-prepared healthy frozen options, chances are there are ingredients you wouldn’t expect. Checking the ingredients in everything.


Find easy solutions

Everything doesn’t have to be a three-course meal prepared from scratch. Dr. Buford recommends supplementing your diet with protein shakes and adding fruit to make it taste good.

You can also check out some meal services. They do the shopping and meal prep, and you end up with a healthy meal.

“The less patients have to do after surgery, the easier it is to recover,” Dr. Buford said.


Don’t forget spice

Healthy meals don’t have to be bland and boring. You can add flavor to anything to make it taste better. Add seasoning, add variety, and keep the meals tasty and interesting while avoiding ingredients that will impede your recovery.

Have questions about what to eat pre- and post-op? Ask a doctor.