Smoking and Plastic Surgery - They Do Not Mix By Stuart Baker on May 16, 2018

You are contemplating having a plastic surgery procedure, but you are also a smoker. Is this a problem? Most doctors would tell you that it is. You should first quit smoking if you want to get the best result possible.

Dr. Stuart Baker is a highly experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon that performs facial plastic and body contouring surgery at The Center for Cosmetic Medicine in Decatur, IL. He clearly understands the concept of wound healing. His 30+ years of experience has convinced him that smoking and plastic surgery do not mix.

Healing Is Key

Plastic surgery procedures are among the most meticulous and delicate of any in medicine. Cosmetic surgeons take great care to make conservative and precise incisions, practice gentle tissue management, and ensure complete primary closure of surgical wounds, using the most atraumatic method possible.

These efforts are directed toward a single goal: achieving the best possible healing to obtain the most aesthetic outcome. Plastic surgery is almost exclusively cosmetic, so it makes sense for surgeons to focus on achieving the most complete healing with the fewest complications and the least scarring.

Many things can interfere with optimal healing. These include infections, systemic diseases, medications, nutrition, immunological status, and poor post-surgical compliance by the patient. However, one of the most important contributors to adverse healing, and fortunately, one of the most controllable, is smoking.

The Smoking Effect

Among the many things Dr. Baker will determine during initial consultation is smoking status. The reason is simple. Patients who smoke do not heal as well as non-smokers. Consequently, they tend to have a slower recovery after surgery with more complications and a compromised cosmetic outcome.

The effect of smoking on healing is well documented. Most importantly, it decreases the blood perfusion to the healing soft tissues. This means less oxygen is delivered to the incision site, and this delays healing. It further hinders the process by increasing the likelihood of infection and other medical complications, such as the formation of a blood clots in the veins.

There are, of course, many other valid reasons to stop smoking. Smokers run an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, various types of cancer and lung diseases, and many other maladies. For all these reasons, smokers should consider discontinuing the habit as soon as possible. This is especially so if they are about to undergo surgery.

When to Quit

Most surgeons will tell their patients to refrain from using cigarettes and other tobacco products for at least four weeks prior to their surgery. This includes all nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays. Starting even earlier will produce better results, yet.

Patients should continue to refrain from tobacco use at least until healing is complete. Many doctors will encourage their patients to take this opportunity to quit for good.

How to Quit

Quitting smoking is difficult, even for highly motivated patients who want to have the best possible surgical outcome. A comprehensive approach is best, which would include obtaining the support of family, friends, and coworkers, joining cessation programs, and consulting your doctor about the use of non-nicotine prescription smoking cessation drugs, such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix).

Contact Us

If you have questions or want to learn more about any of the surgical and non-surgical body-enhancing services we offer, let us know. Contact us for an appointment at one of our three convenient locations. Or if you prefer, give us a call at one of the numbers listed on our website.

Related to This

Dr. Stuart Baker

The Center for Cosmetic Medicine

Dr. Stuart Baker is a board-certified plastic surgeon with decades of experience. He has been recognized as a "master injector" by Allergan, the maker of BOTOX® Cosmetic and JUVÉDERM® products, for excellent patient outcomes. In addition to being a skilled plastic surgeon, he is also an orthopedic hand surgery specialist. His prestigious affiliations include:

  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons — ASPS 
  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery — ASAPS 
  • American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery — AACS 
  • American Medical Association — AMA 

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