Why you must quit smoking before cosmetic surgery

The usual question you hear from your plastic surgeon during consultation is “Do You Smoke?”. If you do then your surgeon would probably told you to quit before having your surgery.

In general surgery such as appendectomy Plastic surgery technique is different from general surgery. For example, in appendectomy the surgeon normally cuts straight down. However when performing a facelift, a tummy tuck, a breast reduction, a breast lift, and hundreds of other procedures the plastic surgeon cuts through the top layer, then turning the knife sidewise so that he can lift the top layer. Once the skin has been lifted, it can be pulled, stretched, moved around, and removed. In doing so the surgeon is able to leave some blood vessels untouched, and those vessels could serve the entire top layer. The vessels that are intact will supply oxygen to the skin that has been elevated after a facelift, tummy tuck etc.

Why is  nicotine bad for cosmetic surgery?

According to research nicotine tend to shrink down to the size of blood vessels. Small blood vessels mean less blood flow, and less blood flow means less oxygen, and less oxygen can mean tissues die.

Mixing nicotine with plastic surgery can result in other problems such as:-

  • Loss of cheek skin after a facelift, nipples after breast lift/breast reduction, tummy skin after tummy tuck surgery.
  • Infections
  • Death of fat cells (fat necrosis), causing hard lumps
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Thick, wide scars
  •  Blood clots, which can be fatal
  •  Increased pain
  • Permanent small vessel damage adding risk even if you quit
  • Loss of breast implants
  • Life threatening complications like stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and pneumonia.

What you can do

If you smoke and you’re planning to have plastic surgery, quit. Follow your plastic surgeon’s recommendation, which may be to quit three to six weeks before surgery through three to six weeks after.

Even if you don’t smoke cigarettes, you’re not off the hook if you smoke e-cigarettes or chew nicotine gum! Stop any form of nicotine, including secondary smoke. Even one puff will cause your blood vessels to shrink. If you’ve scheduled surgery in the near future, and you have a weak moment, inform your surgeon. It’s better to delay surgery than to risk having your tissue die.

Published by Sister Kay McNaught

Sister Kay McNaught a professional Medical Tourism Facilitator based in Malaysia.

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