Why you need to stop smoking before plastic surgery

Why you need to stop smoking before plastic surgery

27th May 2017

Smoking is well-known as one of the major disease causes that can be easily prevented. Most people are aware that smoking is associated with cardiac and respiratory conditions, as well as multiple types of cancer. However, many people don’t know that smoking has extremely severe consequences on the bones, muscles, and joints, and that smoking often prevents achieving satisfactory results after plastic surgery.

What you need to know about smoking before and after plastic surgery:

– Smokers have a longer recovery period after plastic surgery compared to people who don’t smoke;

– The rate of complication after surgery is also higher for smokers. It is even possible for smoking to be one of the biggest factors causing post-operative complications;

– Smoking leads to difficult wound healing after plastic surgery due to the lack of proper oxygenation in the tissue on the incision sites;

– Smoking increases the infection rate;

– Patients have less satisfactory results after plastic surgery.

Patients who quit smoking at least a month before and after the plastic surgery benefit from improved surgical results.

Smoking can be a pleasant vice, but eventually it has to stop. The effects of smoking won’t be seen after a minor intervention such as fat transfer or liposuction, but it can cause complications whatever the procedure performed might be.

What you need to do

Difficulty in breathing, issues with wound cicatrization, and deep vein thrombosis are just some of the potential complications that smoking carries. For smokers, the risks are exponentially increased during and after plastic surgery.

If the procedure is scheduled well in advance, plan to quit smoking. This is not something to be done the day before the surgery. After six weeks of not smoking, the risks of developing postsurgical complications are reduced up to the level of patients who don’t smoke at all.

Smoking addiction has three components: the physical addiction to nicotine, the psychological aspect, and the habit. The physical addiction is the element easiest to control. Nowadays, there are gums and drops that can help. By choosing these replacements, the patient will avoid many of the harmful substances that are in cigarettes. However, when it comes to the physical aspect and habit, it is only the patient who can do something about it. The patient’s will is the solution to the problem. Even stopping 48 hours before the intervention can still make a difference.

Before any type of surgery–especially plastic surgery–the patient needs to meet the anesthetist, who will then estimate the level of nicotine addiction. Depending on the result, he can even suggest a psychologist to help you quit smoking. The anesthetist will also advise you on the protocols you need to follow while you are admitted in the medical facility for surgery. Substitutes for nicotine may also be recommended and additional medical assistance may be extended.

To efficiently stop smoking, the patient should first break the routine. The habits need to be changed; hold the cigarette with the other hand, don’t smoke with your coffee but after you’ve had it, take a different road to work and so on. Another good idea would be to smoke in unfavorable conditions to be able to associate this habit with a disagreeable sensation.

Nicotine and its effects on scar formation

Nicotine has negative effects on the microcirculation, which is essential for a good suture. The plastic surgeon will tell you to stop smoking at least two days before the intervention as it can still make a big difference in terms of wound healing.

Smoking should also be avoided after surgery for at least the same amount of time, if not longer, to ensure a fast recovery period and to keep the complications at bay.

If you are not a smoker but live in a home with smokers, you should pay attention to passive smoking as well. For example, a test made on a child with smoking parents showed a high level of nicotine in the urine. Exposure to smoking has a negative influence over respiratory complications.

Quit smoking now

According to research, the results of plastic surgery are better for non-smoking patients or for patients who didn’t smoke before the intervention. It is important to discuss this issue with the plastic surgeon and ask for help to stop smoking now.


The addiction to nicotine has terrible side effects on a person’s life. When there is a need to undergo surgery, the risks increase exponentially. Severe complications can occur after plastic surgery, which are triggered by smoking. These include delayed wound healing, infection, and a longer recovery period. The scars may also look more unpleasant for patients who smoke before and after surgery.

The plastic surgeon will advise you to stop smoking six weeks before your intervention. If this is not doable, even two days’ abstinence from nicotine can have beneficial effects on your surgery results.

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