Negative Impact of Smoking before a Plastic Surgery Procedure
Plastic surgery may be completely elective, but it is still surgery in every sense of the word. These procedures involve anesthesia, incisions and the same risks associated with other types of surgery. If you are a smoker seeking a plastic surgery procedure, you need to know about the negative impact tobacco can have on the outcome of your procedure.
The Importance of Blood Supply
The nicotine in tobacco serves as a vasoconstrictor, which means it limits the amount of blood flow that gets to skin and tissue throughout the body. This becomes especially problematic when your body relies on good blood flow to heal properly. If there is insufficient blood supply to the surgical site, the result can be necrosis (tissue death), open wounds and extended healing time. The final results will be directly impacted, as scarring is generally much more prominent when there is insufficient blood supply for the area to heal properly.
Smokers are more likely to have breathing-related complications while under anesthesia. Smoking can also increase your risks related to anesthesia like infections, heart attack and pneumonia after your surgery. A 2015 study presented at the European Society of Anesthesiology also found that smokers need 33 percent more anesthesia for surgical procedures than those that do not smoke. More anesthesia can mean more anesthesia-associated risks, including breathing and lung problems.
The Risks of Coughing
It is a fact, smokers tend to cough more than non-smokers as a general rule. Coughing fits while you are recovering from surgery can increase your risk for complications like internal bleeding and hematomas. In addition, coughing can increase your discomfort after some types of surgery, which can make the recovery process more difficult overall.
Some plastic surgery procedures are more risk for smokers than others, such as:
- Tummy tuck
- Breast lift
- Any type of body lift procedure
Basically, any surgical procedure that requires lengthier incisions or use of tissue flaps will carry a much higher risk for smokers. That is because these procedures are even more dependent on good blood supply for healthy healing. Lack of blood supply carries a greater likelihood of necrosis, which can lead to discoloration of the skin and infection. The problem can be especially problematic for the nipples or navel that rely on an even greater blood supply during the healing process.
Compromising Your Results
Even if you quit smoking a number of weeks before and after your procedure, if you resume the habit at some point, you will likely negate the positive effects of your surgery. Studies have shown that smoking also accelerates the aging process, resulting in more skin laxity and the appearance of additional facial creases. If your goal in plastic surgery was to turn back the clock on your appearance, picking up the nicotine habit will accelerate the clock forward once again.
Dr. Rappaport at Houston Center for Plastic Surgery counsels his surgery patients to stop smoking for a number of weeks prior to surgery and for many weeks afterward to ensure the best results from their plastic surgery procedure. He also uses surgery as a springboard for kicking the dangerous habit for good in patients that are willing to make the commitment. To learn more, contact Houston Center for Plastic Surgery at (713) 790-4500.