To qualify for plastic surgery, surgeons require their patients to quit smoking sometime before the procedure. That’s because of the risks it poses. And it’s not just cigarettes but also e-cigarettes (vapes) and other products containing nicotine that you’ll be advised against.
If you want to undergo surgery safely, you need to stop smoking because the chemicals in cigarettes will change your body. And you’ll have to continue avoiding it for some time, even after the surgery has taken place. This will help ensure that your recovery takes place normally and quickly.
Plastic Surgery And Smoking: What’s The Relationship?
Plastic surgeons advise patients to stop smoking a few weeks before their cosmetic surgery. The reason why the combination of plastic surgery and smoking is considered so dangerous is that it can cause the shrinking of the blood vessels. This decreases the blood flow to the tissue that needs nutrients and oxygen to heal and repair normally.
This can be dangerous considering that plastic surgery involves the making of lateral incisions in which, although some blood vessels are left untouched (which supply blood to the wounded area), some of them also get severed. So, the blood flow to the area is reduced because of the surgery itself. If it’s further reduced due to the shrinking of the blood vessels, it can cause irreparable damage to the skin tissue.
The combination of plastic surgery and smoking is not only advised against after the surgery but also before it takes place. That’s because smoking can increase the risk of complications related to anaesthesia. This is further compounded by the fact that many smokers also suffer from heart and lung diseases, which can make the surgery dangerous for them.
How Does Smoking Affect Plastic Surgery?
The combination of plastic surgery and smoking is not good for you for the following reasons:
Poor Wound Healing
As mentioned above, smoking results in the constriction of blood vessels, which can slow down healing after the cosmetic procedure. And wounds that don’t heal normally are at a greater risk of infection. Infection is a very common post-op complication in patients who smoke after cosmetic surgery.
One study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that smoking increased the risk of surgical site infections (SSI). Furthermore, smokers were likely to experience more complications in case of body procedures (e.g. tummy tuck, abdominal liposuction, breast surgery), thigh lift, and male breast surgery).
Patients who smoke are also at an increased risk of wound dehiscence, which is the separation of the edges of the wounds. This can further delay healing and even result in bad scarring, especially if you end up with an infection.
One of the most dangerous consequences of mixing plastic surgery and smoking is tissue necrosis. It happens because of poor blood flow to the surgical wound. Necrosis refers to the premature death of tissue. It is permanent and cannot be reversed.
Following the death of the skin tissue, it needs to be removed. American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) warns of losing the skin of the cheeks after a facelift, nipples after a breast reduction and the skin of the abdomen following a tummy tuck as a result of smoking.
One study published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal also showed that the incidence of tissue necrosis was higher in patients who smoked. They were also more likely to end up needing another surgery.
Heart Problem & Breathing Difficulties
American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) warns that smoking negatively impacts the normal functioning of the heart and lungs. It increases the risk of a heart attack during the surgery and even afterwards. Additionally, you can experience difficulty breathing while you’re undergoing surgery and, afterwards, still. Smokers are also at an increased of getting pneumonia.
There are other ways in which smoking before and after plastic surgery is dangerous. You are at an increased risk of developing dangerous blood clots. You might also experience higher levels of pain after plastic surgery. You can also end up with lumps if fat necrosis occurs. And because of the poor wound healing and the various post-op complications, you can also expect bad scarring.
When Do You Have To Stop Smoking Before Plastic Surgery?
Plastic surgeons usually recommend quitting smoking 2 weeks before the surgery takes place. ASPS warns that even a single puff of cigarette smoke can result in the constriction of your blood vessels.
So, you need to completely avoid directly and even passively (inhaling smoke from someone else’s cigarette). Also, this applies to the consumption of any product that contains nicotine, not just cigarettes. That means that you need to stop consuming pipes, nicotine gum, patches, snuff, etc.
Can You Use E-Cigarettes Before Plastic Surgery?
While, traditionally, e-cigarettes or vapes aren’t considered as dangerous as cigarettes, the problem is that most of them also contain nicotine. And it is the nicotine that causes complications during and after the surgery. Therefore, you shouldn’t smoke e-cigarettes for just as long as you don’t smoke cigarettes, which is at least 2 weeks before plastic surgery.
How Many Weeks After Plastic Surgery Can You Smoke?
To avoid any serious complications from delaying your recovery process, your surgeon would recommend you to not smoke for at least 4-6 weeks after cosmetic surgery. It has even been shown in research that cosmetic surgery can help people stop smoking altogether or reduce how often they smoke.
How To Quit Smoking Before Plastic Surgery?
There are some things that you can try that can help you quit smoking before and after the surgery takes place.
- Set a date when you’re going to quit smoking.
- Involve your friends and family members by telling them that you’ve decided to quit smoking. Their support can help you keep going.
- Consider joining a support group.
- Avoid any triggers. For example, you may like to smoke when you’re drinking or do it with your friends or colleagues after lunch. Also, get sugarless gum or hard vegetables to chew on for cravings.
- Engage in hobbies like reading, writing, cooking or gardening to take your mind off cigarettes. You can also keep yourself busy by exercising.
- Acupuncture and self-massages may also be helpful in quitting.
Throughout the journey, you should try keeping the end goal in mind. Also, remember the dangers of mixing plastic surgery and smoking. If at any time you slip, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Just make sure to inform your doctor about it.
Combining plastic surgery and smoking is not a good idea for many reasons. It can affect the surgery itself and your recovery process afterwards. You can also end up with poor cosmetic results as a result of smoking. That’s why it’s important that you quit it before and after the surgery for as long as advised by your surgeon.
If you do end up smoking a few days or just before the surgery is supposed to take place, make sure to inform your doctor about it. They’ll let you know if it’s safe to proceed with the surgery while taking other factors into consideration. It is important to be honest as it is for your own health and safety. If you have any questions about the consumption of products containing nicotine, make sure to consult with your surgeon. They can also help you in quitting it.