We all know smoking is detrimental to a smoker’s health and to those who may be inhaling second-hand smoke. It’s common knowledge that your chances of developing lung cancer increase dramatically when you smoke. However, did you know that your plastic surgery results can also suffer when you light up? A recent article on CNN.com highlighted the dangers that smoking can have on the healing process after any surgery, and the specific troubles one plastic surgeon’s patient faced after refusing to quit after surgery.
The nicotine in cigarettes obstruct blood vessels that transport oxygen throughout the body. Proper oxygen flow helps to fight infection, keep healthy tissue alive, and deliver medications like antibiotics throughout the body. This means that for an individual recovering from a cosmetic surgery procedure, smoking can increase the risk of infection, pneumonia, and the death of any tissues involved in surgery.
When a plastic surgeon’s pre- and post-operative directions are strictly followed, complications like those relating to smoking are very rare. However, in the CNN.com article the surgeon’s breast lift patient continued to smoke against the surgeon’s recommendations. The result was that tissue involved in surgery lost blood flow and began to die. The surgeon had to resort to drastic measure to reestablish blood flow, ensuring the woman’s recovery.
Not only does smoking increase your chance of complications after surgery, but even before surgery it can accelerate the aging process. The same narrowing of blood vessels that is so dangerous in surgery recovery also impairs blood flow to the skin which means the skin doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to remain young-looking and that collagen production decreases drastically. While anti-aging procedures like dermal injectables (Botox® and Dysport®) and facial fillers (like Juvéderm® and Restylane®) can help to reverse signs of aging. An individual who continues to smoke will continue to damage his or her skin, even if cosmetic anti-aging treatments are preferred.
If you need another reason to quit smoking, you can add accelerated aging and potential surgical complications to your list! The surgeons at Atlanta Plastic Surgery carefully screen each patient during a pre-surgical consultation for factors like medical and family history to determine his or her candidacy for a procedure.