Why is smoking bad for cosmetic surgery?

Cigarettes contains nicotine and according to research nicotine tend to shrink down the size of small blood vessels and therefore reduced the oxygen supply to the operated area.

Cosmetic surgery technique is very different from General surgery. 

In general surgery eg. in appendectomy the surgeon normally cuts straight down deep to the site to remove the appendix and closes the site with sutures.

However when a cosmetic surgeon does a facelift, a tummy tuck and many other procedures the surgeon uses his artistic skill to cuts through the top layer, then turning the knife sidewise so that he can lift the top layer. Once the skin has been lifted he can manipulate the tissue by pulling, stretching, move it around and remove the excess skin in order to enhance the patient’s feature. In doing so the surgeon is able to leave some blood vessels untouched, and those vessels could serve the entire top layer of the tissue. 

The vessels that are intact will supply oxygen to the skin that has been elevated after a facelift, tummy tuck etc. Unrestricted blood supply will in turn nourish the tissue and remove the byproduct of cell healing. This will inturn speed up the healing process and minimise scarring.

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 cosmetic 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, increased pain and delayed wound healing
  • Thick, wide scars
  • Permanent small vessel damage adding risk even if you quit
  • Death of fat cells (fat necrosis), causing hard lumps
  • Loss of breast implants
  • Blood clots, which can be fatal
  • Life threatening complications like stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and pneumonia.
How can you prepare yourself?

If you smoke and you’re planning to have plastic surgery, quit. Follow your cosmetic 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. If you’ve scheduled surgery in the near future be honest and 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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