Why Nicotine and Plastic Surgery Do Not Mix

To help prepare for any plastic surgery procedure, patients are told to avoid smoking cigarettes. For regular smokers, this means quitting weeks before their procedure and also refraining from smoking after their procedure has been completed. While not smoking is generally recommended by any doctor looking out for their patient’s health and wellbeing, there are unique risks associated with nicotine consumption for plastic surgery patients. These risks apply just as much to other sources of nicotine use like gum, patches, chewing tobacco, pipes, cigars, and e-cigarettes.

Why Nicotine and Plastic Surgery Do Not Mix

Risks During Surgery

The negative consequences of nicotine use can become apparent from the start of a plastic surgery procedure. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to your cells. This means that patients who use nicotine will have an increased risk of experiencing oxygen shortage, blood clots, slower healing, or infection during their surgery. Additionally, a recent study published by the European Society of Anesthesiology showed that patients who smoke require 33% more anesthesia during surgery and an additional 23% more pain medication after surgery compared with patients who don’t smoke.

Risks During Recovery

Using nicotine in any form can pose just as many risks during your post-surgery recovery period. During a tummy tuck, cosmetic breast surgery, or any other cosmetic procedure, there will be a decrease in blood supply to the area being operated on. These tissues will receive less blood than normal while recovering from surgery. The compound effect of this natural change in blood flow with the shrinking of blood vessels due to nicotine use can significantly increase a patient’s chances of post-surgery complications. Nicotine makes the blood stickier which increases the chances of potentially dangerous blood clots during recovery. This clogging and shrinking of the blood vessels can lead to improper healing as well as tissue destruction, skin necrosis (skin death), more visible scaring, and wound separation.

This is not meant to be a judgment of character. This is merely a warning to help my patients achieve the best-looking, safest results possible from their surgery. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, the health and safety of my patients is something I take very seriously. Plastic surgery can be an amazing way to help rejuvenate your appearance and improve your self-esteem, but only if you are healthy enough for it and closely follow the pre and post-surgery instructions of your plastic surgeon. If you think you are healthy enough for plastic surgery and you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the office of Allyson B. Maske today. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more plastic surgery tips, news, and updates.