We have good news and bad news for smokers considering plastic surgery. The bad news? Your surgeon is going to strongly recommend, if not require, that you quit smoking at least two to three weeks prior to and after your procedure. The good news? After a total of four-to-six weeks without nicotine, you’ll be in a good position to permanently quit. In fact, a study conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), published in 2017, found “an association between cosmetic surgery and smoking cessation at long-term follow-up.” That is, plastic surgery may help people quit smoking for good.
It can be difficult to talk about the reality of smoking’s detrimental effects without coming off as preachy. While we don’t believe it’s our place to tell people what choices to make with their bodies, we strongly believe everyone should be aware of nicotine’s negative impacts on plastic surgery results. Our intent is only to convey the facts and ensure we’re doing everything we can to help people make informed decisions about their plastic-surgery procedures.
It’s ill-advised to undergo any sort of surgery with nicotine in your system. This is because nicotine causes the blood vessels to shrink, constricting the flow of blood, and therefore oxygen, to the skin. Your skin needs oxygen to stay viable during a plastic surgery procedure, as oxygen-deprived skin has little chance of healing. Nicotine also contributes to higher risk of infection, fat necrosis (a condition in which fat cells die and form hard lumps), longer wound-healing time, thicker, more pronounced scarring, blood clots, and increased levels of pain. Notice that we’re using the word “nicotine” instead of “smoking;” this is because anything containing nicotine, including cessation tools like gum, e-cigarettes, and patches can cause these issues.
“But my surgeon didn’t say anything about not smoking before my knee surgery,” you might say. Plus, you might have fared well during your standard-surgery healing process, despite having continued to smoke heavily both before and after your non-cosmetic procedure. At Atlanta Plastic Surgery, our surgeons put surgical patient safety and wellbeing before anything else.
When performing most cosmetic surgery procedures, the surgeon needs to be able to lift the skin up, keeping it healthy and viable the whole time. This allows them to stretch, relocate, and/or remove portions of the skin. Having nicotine in your system makes this entire process more difficult and, potentially, more dangerous. In other words, your plastic surgeon needs a good canvas with which to render his masterpiece, and the best canvas is a healthy one.
We often say that plastic surgery—especially liposuction and body-contouring procedures—should be regarded as extra motivation to stay fit, not a replacement for healthy lifestyle choices. You wouldn’t want to negate the results of your procedure, after all. Similarly, since you need to quit nicotine products prior to your procedure anyway, we advise trying to use your plastic-surgery preparation measures to permanently get over your nicotine addiction.
If you’re considering plastic surgery and would like to speak with an experienced surgeon about your options, please contact one of our Atlanta Plastic Surgery offices to schedule a consultation. In addition to discussing your prospective procedure, we can go over our available financing options for plastic surgery with you. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest plastic surgery news and updates.