Smoking and Plastic Surgery Don’t Mix
If you’re a smoker and have had surgery in the past without complications, consider yourself lucky.
Tobacco smokers are at a much higher risk than non-smokers for complications that include impaired heart and lung functions, infections, and delayed wound healing.
And if you think that you don’t need to worry about that for plastic surgery, think again. Smoking and plastic surgery are a terrible pair.
How Smoking Impacts the Body
Cigarettes are chock full of chemicals. Over 4,000 of them. And these chemicals present a significantly higher risk for surgical complications in smokers.
The two biggest culprits are nicotine and carbon monoxide. Both of these decrease oxygen levels in the body and boost the risk of heart-related complications. In addition, the actual act of smoking damages the lungs and makes proper air flow through them difficult.
Furthermore, smoking negatively impacts the immune system. So when the body is attempting to heal from surgery, it’s going to take longer. This increases the risk of infection at the wound site.
And you don’t have to be a chain smoker for this to be the case. Smoking a single cigarette is enough to decrease the body’s ability to deliver nutrients for healing after any type of surgery.
Specific Complications for Smoking and Plastic Surgery
One of the worst effects of smoking is vasoconstriction. This is the narrowing of the blood vessels. When the vessels are narrowed, flow of blood and oxygen are compromised. This deters proper healing of the skin cells and increases the likelihood of skin cell death, or necrosis, on the wound.
But wait. There’s more.
When nicotine is present in the body, plastic surgery can result in loss of cheek skin, nipples, or belly skin after a facelift, breast lift, breast reduction, or tummy tuck surgery. It may also cause a loss of breast implants.
And because healing is delayed, scars are thicker and wider. Slower healing means more pain and also the possibility of infection or even blood clots – which can be fatal. Pair all of these with the other dangerous complications such as heart attack and stroke, and it’s clear that smoking and plastic surgery do not mix.
What About Marijuana or Other Alternatives?
When your doctor tells you not to smoke before surgery, this includes smoking tobacco in pipes, cigars, hookahs, as well as smoking marijuana. Carbon monoxide is created any time you smoke and this can lead to tissue death after surgery. Marijuana edibles or tinctures may be approved, however. You’ll need to discuss with your surgeon that option.
Meanwhile, vapes and e-cigs are not acceptable switch-outs for smoking either because even though there’s no carbon monoxide, they still contain nicotine. Even nicotine gums and patches should be avoided.
The general rule of thumb is that ANY type of smoking or nicotine use is going to be bad for your surgical outcome. Period.
Your Best Bet
If you are a smoker, evidence shows that quitting at least four weeks before surgery will not only lower your risk of complications, but you’ll notice better results six months after the plastic surgery procedure. You are also less likely to experience complications with anesthesia.
To heal properly, sustain results, and improve your overall health, ceasing the use of nicotine products altogether is really the only game in town. So if you’re considering a plastic surgery procedure and know you’ll need to quit for at least four weeks prior, now might be the time to consider quitting forever.
Change Your Appearance, Change Your Life
Are you a smoker who’s looking for a fresh new look with a facelift, tummy tuck, breast augmentation, or other plastic surgery procedure?
Contact us today.
Because now that you understand how smoking and plastic surgery don’t play well together, you may be inspired to quit for good. And your new look may just come with a new lease on life.