Side effects of smoking after plastic surgery

Side effects of smoking after plastic surgery

02nd May 2017


More and more people are becoming increasingly aware of the injurious effects of smoking to one’s health. Smoking is known to cause a number of health problems including cancer of the lungs, mouth, and throat, and heart problems, among others. Some of the most harmful chemicals that comprise cigarettes and tobacco smoke are nicotine, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and tar, which altogether hamper a patient’s recovery after an operation.

Smoking can constrict the blood vessels and promote clotting; inducing a shortage in blood and oxygen supply at the surgical site and needlessly delaying the healing process. It can also trigger surgical complications such as infections and health conditions like stroke, heart attack and respiratory problems. As such, smokers who are preparing to undergo cosmetic procedures must quit several weeks prior to the surgery and they are also advised to refrain from smoking for the entirety of the recovery period.

Smoking negatively affects pain medication

Smoking has the potential to adversely affect pain management after plastic surgery. A study by the European Society of Anesthesiology in June 2015 found that regular smokers require 33 percent more anesthesia during surgery and 23 percent extra pain medication during the recovery period than non-smokers. If you have been exposed to passive smoking, you would need 20 percent additional anesthesia and 18 percent more pain medication than individuals not exposed to passive smoking.

Nicotine slows down the healing process

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients that are considered essential in various metabolic processes. Oxygen, in particular, is important in cellular respiration. After the cosmetic procedure, the surgical site will require an uninterrupted blood and oxygen supply to expedite the healing of the tissues that were damaged during the surgery.

When the patient smokes after plastic surgery, the surgical area may not receive an adequate supply of blood. According to existing research, nicotine is the specific component of tobacco smoke that induces vasoconstriction or the narrowing of blood vessels. It also increases platelet adhesiveness, which supports the formation of clots that may eventually occlude veins and arteries. These blood clots may lead to the complete cessation of blood flow to the surrounding tissues and the cells making up these tissues will eventually die from oxygen deficiency. Moreover, carbon monoxide displaces the hemoglobin molecule that binds oxygen in red blood cells; thus, further reducing oxygen supply.

Many of the patients who refuse to stop smoking often boast that they did not encounter issues with their recovery from previous operations. As a matter of fact, plastic surgery repositions tissues in a manner that is different from that of other operations. Several blood vessels are damaged during plastic surgery and it is crucial for the existing vessels to continue transporting blood and oxygen to the injured area. This makes smoking particularly dangerous for plastic surgery patients.

Smoking and susceptibility to infections

Smoking plays a significant role in the development of infections after plastic surgery. Nicotine and tar injure the tissues by reducing or stopping the oxygenation process. Because of this, neutrophils in smokers are known to be less responsive to pathogens. To put it simply, smoking weakens the immune system which in turn makes the body and the surgical area more prone to contracting infections.

Regardless of the size of your surgical wound, its susceptibility to infection increases if you continue to smoke after your plastic surgery. According to studies, if a smoker quits smoking at least four weeks before the surgery and stays a non-smoker for at least 6-8 weeks after the surgery, his or her healing process will be similar to that of a non-smoker.

Smoking immediately after plastic surgery can also cause a number of health complications like pneumonia and tissue death. Your body becomes vulnerable to pneumonia because nicotine and other harmful substances in cigarette smoke have already weakened your respiratory and immune systems. These chemicals interfere with the filtering capacity of the lungs and cause irritation which may lead to an increased production of mucus. On the other hand, your immune system is unable to fight back against the bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia.

Smoking and scarring

Plastic surgery is performed by placing incisions on the skin. This means that after the surgery, the patient will likely experience scarring on the treated areas. While scarring is completely normal, inevitable and acceptable, smokers are at risk of getting unsightly and excessive scarring. This is mainly due to the fact that smoking constricts or blocks the blood vessels to the extent that the surgical wounds or incisions fail to get enough blood and oxygen supply. This leads to poor wound healing and the patient may develop large, visible and awful scars on the surgical area, which can make you appear visually unappealing.

Nicotine consumes vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital in synthesizing collagen, strengthening the immune system and performing antioxidant functions. Conversely, nicotine has the tendency to eat up the vitamin C in your body, which is very crucial for wound healing. Your body requires enough supply of vitamin C to recuperate from the physical trauma caused by the operation. After plastic surgery, the levels of vitamin C in your body will plummet. At this point, smoking can further decrease your vitamin C to dangerous levels.

Stopping smoking

Many patients understand that smoking after plastic surgery can be fatal; however, they still find it very difficult to stop smoking. This is absolutely reasonable because the urge to smoke is basically rooted in a psychological dependence on nicotine. In order to stop smoking, I suggest using Allen Carr’s “Easy Way To Stop Smoking.” The book has already helped millions of people stop smoking. People who find it hard to stop smoking through sheer willpower or a substitute method can easily quit smoking by reading this book.


Smoking after plastic surgery seriously impairs your body’s natural healing capability. After the surgery, the surgical wounds require a continuous supply of blood and oxygen to heal properly. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, interrupting the blood supply to the surgical area. Smoking also triggers blood clotting which has the tendency to clog your blood vessels and completely stop the blood supply to the surgical area. Moreover, smoking weakens your immune system and consumes the vitamin C in your body, making you susceptible to potential infections. If you are a smoker, make sure to stop smoking before your operation and remember to keep from smoking even after your operation. This way, your recovery will be quick and efficient.


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