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E-cigarette and plastic surgery

Can E-Cigarettes Be Dangerous Before Plastic Surgery Procedures?

It is common knowledge that patients should stop smoking within a certain timeframe before their plastic surgery procedure in order to reduce the risk of complications from the surgery, but the risks of e-cigarette smokers has remained somewhat undetermined. However, new evidence related to the use of e-cigarettes by the official medical journal Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery from the American Society Of Plastic Surgeons, has stated that ‘vaping’ could have potentially harmful effects before any plastic or reconstructive surgery.

Are E-Cigarettes Safer?

The effects of e-cigarettes and inhaling nicotine vapour is as of yet unclear, but a number of researchers have suggested that there could be a number of complications AFTER procedures which could be caused by e-cigarettes. For example skin-flap complications are a common problem seen by regular cigarette smokers, and this could be something seen with e-cigarette smokers too, due to the nicotine contents of an e-cigarette. Skin flap complications are generally thought to be related to nicotine as it can reduce blood flow (also known as vasoconstriction). Simply, when nicotine restricts the blood flow, skin wounds can take longer to heal. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding any other potentially toxic substances that could be contained within an e-cigarette, meaning there are a number of other complications that could possibly occur that many surgeons are unaware of.

Safe Practice

A general guideline for cigarette smokers before a plastic surgery procedure is that they should quit smoking for three to four weeks prior to the procedure.  A study amongst general patients has shown that doing this has actually reduced the complication rate, i.e. skin flap complications, by between 20 and 40 percent. Based on current knowledge, many surgeons believe that similar guidelines should be put in place for plastic surgery procedures in order to help reduce any risks, particularly with the increase in ‘vaping’ popularity around the world.

How Does Smoking Affect Healing?

An analysis of over 170 studies in 2012 showed that smoking can have an adverse effect on healing for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, smoking can decrease tissue oxygenation and aerobic metabolism, which reduces the healing process quite dramatically. This is generally related to the nicotine substance within cigarettes, and this ultimately weakens the inflammatory response of the body. This means that collagen reproduction and its development are all reduced, leading to skin cells not being able to repair as quickly as normal, ultimately making the healing process longer and far more complicated. However, when smokers stop for a number of weeks leading up to the procedure, the inflammatory response is somewhat reversed.

E-Cigarettes & Healing

While there is no strict evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are exponentially harmful, there are a number of reasons why medical professionals are uncertain and cautious about the new ‘vaping’ culture when it comes to a surgical setting. The levels of nicotine within e-cigarettes can vary from 0% to as high as 10%, meaning each case will need to be reviewed on an individual basis depending on what the patient smokes. Many professionals believe that while more definitive research would help to determine the effects of vaporised nicotine through e-cigarettes, patients and surgeons should treat them in a similar manner to regular cigarettes, cutting them out 4 weeks prior to a plastic surgery procedure, in order to ensure safe practice.

If you have any questions regarding smoking regular cigarettes or e-cigarettes prior to your procedure with Longevita, make sure to get in touch with one of our expert consultants in order to ensure any related risks are reduced for your procedure.


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