Smoking during your plastic surgery recovery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 46 million Americans routinely smoke some type of tobacco product. Smoking increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers, including those of the lungs, esophagus, throat, mouth, and stomach. It also increases the odds of developing emphysema, heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, and having a stroke. Every year, one out of five deaths in the United States is directly related to smoking.

Anyone who is considering undergoing plastic surgery should agree to give up smoking. Smoking after a plastic surgery procedure increases the risks of complications and prolongs the recovery period.

The Link Between Smoking and Delayed Wound Healing

The nicotine present in cigarettes acts as a vasoconstrictor that reduces the nutritional flow of blood the skin needs for optimum health. The lack of adequate blood flow causes ischemia of the tissues (deficient supply of blood) along with compromised healing. Another risk posed by nicotine is that it increases the adhesiveness of blood platelets. An elevated platelet level can also cause ischemia of the tissue in addition to a condition known as thrombotic microvascular occlusion. That means the body’s small arteries become blocked.

Yet another negative effect of nicotine use after plastic surgery is that it reduces the amount of fibroblasts, macrophages, and red blood cells present in the body. This leads to a decrease in the quality of collagen. Smokers who experienced trauma before surgery or have a long-term disease experience slower healing of wounds than non-smokers with the same issues.

Plastic surgeons are especially concerned with slower healing of wounds after surgery. Compared to patients who don’t smoke, those who do experience less than satisfactory results after a facelift procedure. They are also at higher risk of post-surgical complications after a breast lift or augmentation.

Quit Smoking at Least Two Weeks Before Plastic Surgery

All patients who plan to undergo cosmetic surgery need to give up smoking as soon as possible. To avoid complications and slow healing, patients need to stop smoking no later than two weeks before the surgery date. It is essential for plastic surgery patients to be honest with their doctor about their smoking status in order to plan for a successful surgery and recovery period.

Assistance in Giving Up Smoking

While giving up an addiction to nicotine is challenging, the good news is that numerous resources are available to smokers who truly desire to quit. Smoking cessation products available without a prescription, such as gum, lozenges, and nicotine patches, may be all that a current smoker needs to give up the habit. One thing to keep in mind about nicotine patches is that they can’t be used in the two weeks proceeding surgery. That is because they can cause some of the same problems with wound healing that smoking does.

Prescription drugs are another option for people who don’t experience success with over-the-counter products. Wellbutrin, Zyban, and Chantix are some of the most popular options. These are oral medications that help decrease the physical and emotional craving for nicotine.

For those who are open to alternative medicine, hypnotherapy or acupuncture are additional options for help in quitting smoking. Hypnotherapy brings about a relaxed state of mind in which people are more open to the power of suggestion, which in this case is giving up smoking. With acupuncture, the practitioner inserts tiny needles in various locations on the body to decrease the intensity of nicotine cravings.

The purpose of many different types of plastic surgery is to reverse the signs of aging. Since smoking accelerates the aging process, patients who return to the habit after a surgical procedure won’t see the results they expected.

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