Who makes a good candidate for plastic surgery? Ask the question, and part of the answer will be: “non smokers.” of course, we all know that smoking is not good for our health or our personal appearance. We know that smoking greatly increases our risk of getting cancer, emphysema, and vascular disease. We know that smoking ages us by staining our teeth, gives us bad breath, and makes our clothes and hair smell. Obviously, smoking is not going to lead anyone to the fountain of youth. So just in case you needed one more reason to quit smoking, here are a few answers to questions often asked.
Smoking and Plastic Surgery Q & A
Q: What specifically does smoking do to inhibit healing and recovery from surgery?
A: Nicotine closes the blood vessels responsible for bringing oxygenated blood to the tissues. In addition to its healing power, oxygen also fights infection and helps keep tissue alive, as well as being instrumental in delivering important medications like antibiotics. Furthermore, smoking clogs the lungs, and thus increases risk of pulmonary infection such as pneumonia.
Q: What are the worst case scenario consequences of smoking before and after surgery?
A: Smoking significantly increases the risk of infection, pneumonia, tissue death, delayed healing, undesirable scars and recognised complications of specific surgery.
Q: How specifically does smoking accelerate aging of the face and body?
A: Due to the constriction of blood flow and increase of free radicals, smoking decreases the skins elasticity (leading to earlier sagging and wrinkling of skin), and the constant repeated “puckering” action involved in puffing on a cigarette can cause lines and wrinkles around the mouth.
Q: Are there surgeries that you may refuse to perform on a smoker?
A: Certain procedures which involve a lot of pulling or altering of blood supply would present more risk for a smoker. These procedures include facelift, tummy tuck, breast lifts / breast reductions and the use of tissue flaps in reconstructive surgery.
Q: Aside from quitting entirely, how long do you recommend patients avoid smoking before and after surgery?
A: Generally it is recommended that a patient avoid smoking for at least 4 weeks before surgery. The complication risk may still be of concern after this time so restarting of smoking can trigger a response or complication.
Q: If I quit smoking, am I guaranteed to have no complications or problems?
A: Unfortunately there are no guarantees with any surgery. All surgeries come with risks and potential complications. The difference is – smoking increases your risks.
In short, if you are considering plastic surgery, you may also want to consider the idea that this is the perfect time to quit smoking. Surgery always entails some level of risk to your health (even, in rare cases, to your life). Smoking greatly increases those risks. If you are going to go under the knife, don’t compromise your results for an addiction which has mostly likely already cost you plenty.
Non-smokers enjoy better and longer results, quicker recovery, and less risks. Sounds like a win-win. Please consider this information in your informed decision making for surgery.