Arnica Ointment: Does It Decrease Bruising & Improve Healing?

Arnica Ointment:  Does It Decrease Bruising & Improve Healing?

Arnica has long been thought to limit bruising and swelling after surgery. Arnica montana is an herb which grows in the mountains. It has a history of medicinal use dating back to the 1500s. Arnica has gained popularity in the past decade as a preventive mesure to reduce swelling and ecchymosis, bruising, following elective surgical procedures. But does it actually work?

In the July 2016 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal van Exsel et al. designed and performed a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to answer this question.

The researchers randomized 136 bilateral upper blepharoplasty patients into two study arms: One received arnica ointment 10% and the other a placebo ointment. Patients in both arms had a treatment and non-treatment side designated. The periorbital area of the treatment side received either arnica or placebo ointment, while the non-treatment side received no ointment and served as an internal control. Overall periorbital appearance was the primary endpoint and assessed by a medical and nonmedical panel using light photography after 3 days, 7 days and 6 weeks. Secondary endpoints included swelling, pain, ecchymosis, erythema and patient satisfaction with recovery and outcome.

Does Arnica Work?

The study found no significant difference between arnica ointment and placebo in the appearance of the eyelids at 3 days, 7 days, or 6 weeks after surgery. Also, swelling, ecchymosis (bruising), erythema (redness), pain and patient satisfaction with recovery and outcome did not differ between arnica and placebo. Postoperative outcome in untreated eyelids was not different from eyelids treated with either arnica or placebo on any of the studied outcome measures.

The conclusion: Topical arnica ointment after upper blepharoplasty does not improve postoperative outcome in blepharoplasty patients. Thus, arnica ointment is most likely not beneficial in the healing of other surgical incisions.

Let us know about your experience with Arnica Ointment for treating cuts and bruises.

Van exsel DC, Pool SM, Van uchelen JH, Edens MA, Van der lei B, Melenhorst WB. Arnica Ointment 10% Does Not Improve Upper Blepharoplasty Outcome: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016;138(1):66-73.

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