The negative health risks associated with smoking have been well publicized for decades now, but according to the CDC, over 46 million Americans continue to smoke, and one in every five deaths in the US occurs due to smoking. Smoking can increase your risk for major, life-threatening diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and can accelerate the aging process. If you’re a smoker and are thinking about having cosmetic surgery, it’s important that you quit smoking as far in advance as possible before surgery to lower your risk for complications.
How smoking affects cosmetic surgery
During any cosmetic procedure, whether it’s breast augmentation, liposuction, or tummy tuck, your surgeon will move skin and tissues around in your body to mold or reshape a particular area -- resulting in changes to the blood supply to those tissues. After your skin and tissues have been moved, they will require oxygen and sufficient blood flow to sustain the life of your tissue and promote good healing.
Smoking constricts your blood vessels and inhibits the flow of oxygen to your cells. Considering that blood flow and oxygen are vital to the healing process, smoking can prevent and prolong healing, and your tissues will be at higher risk for dying. Risks associated with poor healing include pronounced scarring, raised skin, wound separation, and skin necrosis, also known as skin death. If you’re a smoker who has cosmetic surgery, you may be at higher risk for these types of complications, as well as infections following surgery.
Since smoking is also linked to accelerated aging, the habit can offset the effects of certain cosmetic surgery procedures -- especially those that smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. For example, those who have facelifts or eye lifts and continue to smoke can negate the effects of surgery within a short period of time by promoting the development of wrinkles. On the other hand, those who have body-contouring procedures such as tummy tuck and liposuction will be required to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle following surgery. If you’re a smoker, your surgeon will encourage you to quit before having one or both of these procedures to boost your chances at having a better surgical outcome.
How to quit smoking before cosmetic surgery
Some cosmetic surgeons will refuse to perform elective surgeries on smokers due to the associated dangers and risks. If you’re a smoker interested in having cosmetic surgery, mention this factor to your surgeon at the time of your initial consultation so they can work with you on helping you quit. Your surgeon can also schedule your surgery for weeks or months down the road if you need extra time to quit smoking before your procedure.
If you’re ready to quit smoking and need help and support, speak to your family physician or health care provider about smoking cessation methods. Nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges can be purchased from most drugstores, and your doctor may be able to write you a prescription for nicotine nasal spray or drugs that can help you quit smoking. Many individuals also find that joining an online or local support group can be effective for smoking cessation.
GLOW Surgical Arts offers a variety of cosmetic surgery and minimally invasive procedures to help you look and feel more attractive.Request a consultation online, or call GLOW Surgical Arts at (650) 241-2209.