The Effects of Smoking on Plastic Surgery

You are always advised to stop smoking but if you’re planning to have plastic surgery, there are some procedures that would be contraindicated if you were an active smoker.  In addition to the harmful effects that cigarettes have on your lungs and heart, cigarettes also contain nicotine, a chemical that constricts your small blood vessels.  If nicotine is in your system (regardless of the source), there is a higher risk for wound complications and tissue breakdown, especially in flap-type procedures.  When a “flap” of tissue is raised, that segment of tissue has a restricted blood supply by nature of the procedural dissection.  If nicotine is in your system at the same time, its vessel constricting action further diminishes the blood supply to the “flap”, potentially to a point where the flap tissue may die off.


For this reason, flap-type procedures like a tummy tuck, facelift, breast lift and breast reduction are contraindicated in active smokers.  However, there are some procedures like liposuction and breast augmentation that are permissible if you’re unable to stop smoking because they do not involve the raising of flaps.

You should try to eliminate any source of nicotine for at least 2-3 weeks prior to surgery.  This is a minimum.  If you can achieve the smoking cessation for 2-3 months, that would be even better.  The longer you have nicotine out of your system, the lower the risks for wound complications.  Understandably, it can be difficult trying to stop your smoking addiction.  Fortunately, there are some methods to help you quit smoking like nicotine replacement therapy (gum or patch), medication (e.g. Chantix, Zyban), hypnosis, acupuncture and functional medicine.  Taking these steps can go a long way to improve your overall health, slow down aging and reduce your risks for surgery.

For more information, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Farris or simply call 214-363-1073.

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