If you’re a smoker who is considering plastic surgery, you may have run across information that warns not to smoke if you’re getting plastic surgery. Now you’re wondering, “What does smoking have to do with plastic surgery?” They don’t seem connected but believe us, they are and it’s important to know why.
Whenever a prospective patient tells us that they are a smoker, we tell them to quit well before having plastic surgery. It’s not uncommon for the individual to follow that advice with, “Can I use a substitute at least, like nicotine gum, a patch, chewing tobacco, a pipe, or e-cigarettes?” The answer is “No! No nicotine whatsoever.”
Why is Nicotine Bad for Plastic Surgery?
If you have had other surgeries, such as knee or back surgery before as a smoker, you may have healed perfectly fine. But plastic surgery is very different than traditional surgery. With plastic surgery; for example, with a facelift or tummy tuck, we cut some of the blood vessels, while some others are left intact.
When nicotine is added to a patient’s blood, the blood vessels shrink dramatically, which translates to less blood flow and less oxygen and as a result, tissue death. Here are just some of the problems linked to nicotine use and plastic surgery:
- More pain,
- Delayed healing,
- Thicker, wider scars,
- Breast implants can be rejected,
- Permanent damage to the small vessels,
- Fat cell death, which can cause hard lumps,
- Serious and life-threatening complications, such as blood clots, heart attack, or pneumonia, OR
- Loss of tummy or cheek skin or nipples after a facelift, breast lift, breast reduction, or tummy tuck.
If you are a smoker and want to have plastic surgery, our Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Yuly Gorodisky will suggest that you quit three to six weeks before the procedure and to not touch nicotine for six weeks after the surgery, though quitting permanently is not only best for your health, but it’s better for maintaining results!
Even if you don’t smoke cigarettes, that doesn’t mean you can use nicotine gum or e-cigarettes before surgery. You have to stay far away from nicotine, and that includes secondhand smoke! If you do have a moment of weakness, be sure to tell you plastic surgeon. It’s far better to postpone the surgery than to risk complications.