NEW YORK — "To feed or not to feed?" that is the question. Traditionally, patients who undergo an abdominoplasty are not allowed oral intake of food until bowel activity can be audibly verified post-operatively. According to one plastic surgeon, however, the practice of withholding food following an abdominal surgery is not as perilous as once thought to be. In fact, according to the results of a recent study, this practice may soon be a thing of the past.
"There is a steadily growing trend for surgeons to feed patients immediately following a full abdominoplasty surgery without any increase in danger to the patient or any increase in post-operative nausea and vomiting when compared to the traditional approach of initially withholding oral intake of food until bowel activity is heard," says Alan Matarasso, M.D., F.A.C.S., at the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital in New York. Dr. Matarasso and colleagues conducted a prospective study in 22 patients who underwent a full abdominoplasty. In the study, 10 patients received nil per os (NPO) until bowel sounds were heard and 12 received oral intake of food immediately following the surgery.
According to Dr. Matarasso, one of the major advantages of this new approach is that those patients who immediately begin diet post-op may, theoretically, be able to have their I.V. removed sooner and could also be discharged sooner, which could save patients in hospital-related costs. Several factors would determine just how soon patients who are fed immediately following a full abdominoplasty can be discharged and would vary from case to case. But according to Dr. Matarasso, some patients could conceivably go home the same day. "The point here is that by having these patients fed, you have those options," he explains. "Each patient and each situation is different, but...from our study, we found that early feeding in patients undergoing abdominoplasty was clearly feasible and safe."
According to Dr. Matarasso, who was the senior author on the paper, "the group that we compared where we did not feed them [the patients] has made me a believer." He now uses this approach with his patients and believes that surgeons should consider possibly adopting it as a new dogma in post-op care. "In the end," he states, "it is advantageous and safe."
Jejurikar SS, Orseck MJ, Matarasso A. Reevaluating resumption of oral intake after abdominoplasty. Aesthetic Surg J. 2007;27:233-238.