If you’re a smoker and are considering plastic surgery, one of the things your doctor will talk to you about is the effects of nicotine use on plastic surgery. If you are a smoker, you’ve probably think you’ve heard all the reasons to quit by now. But it might surprise you to hear that nicotine, in any form, can be particularly damaging for plastic surgery patients, for a number of reasons.
The following are reasons why it’s critically important to stop smoking―or using any type of tobacco products―before and after plastic surgery.
Healing After Plastic Surgery
Use of nicotine products seriously compromises your body’s ability to heal after plastic surgery and will probably diminish the quality of results achieved. Nicotine constricts blood vessels causing them to shrink in diameter. Constricted vessels reduce the flow of blood, which is critically important for healing. Good blood flow is particularly important for healing to certain areas like the nipples. Nicotine use has the possibility to be especially damaging prior to a breast lift, tummy tuck, or mommy makeover.
Nicotine also increases the risk of blood clots and is associated with severe surgical complications such as stroke and heart attack. Additional significant problems associated with nicotine use prior to cosmetic surgery include:
- Fat Necrosis
- Loss of Skin
- Permanent Blood Vessel Damage
- Delayed Healing
- Increased Pain
Anesthesia and Smoking
Smokers are more likely to suffer from adverse effects of anesthesia, either general or local. A 2015 study by the European Society of Anesthesiology found that smokers require significantly more anesthesia (33% more) during surgery and more pain medication (23% more) after. Smoking creates more mucus, which can interfere with airways and its associated respiratory problems interfere with oxygen uptake and delivery. And because smoking inhibits each cell’s ability to maintain oxygen, there’s an increased risk of lung infections.
What about e-Cigarettes or Chewing Tobacco?
E-cigarettes, like their tobacco-burning counterparts, contain nicotine, which constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure so they are just as harmful to the healing process. The same holds true for chewing tobacco and snuff. While smokeless tobacco doesn’t introduce carbon monoxide into your body, the nicotine will increase your risk of cardiovascular issues.
How Soon Prior to Plastic Surgery Should I Give up Nicotine and/or Smoking?
It’s best to eliminate your intake of nicotine at least eight (8) weeks prior to plastic surgery. Your body, especially your cardiovascular system, begins healing from the effects of smoking cessation within hours. Eight (8) weeks is enough time to adequately assist your body during plastic surgery and in its healing efforts afterwards.
It’s very important to be open with your plastic surgeon about your lifestyle, including diet, exercise, alcohol intake and any use of nicotine products or illegal drugs. Being upfront with your doctor is the first step you should take if you’ve decided to undergo any type of surgery. Doing so will help you obtain the safest and most beneficial results.
If you have questions about how nicotine can affect your plastic surgery, contact board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Todd Pollock at North Dallas Plastic Surgery. He’ll advise you on how to help ensure your plastic surgery is safe and effective.