Many of our patients are surprised when they find out that they must quit smoking prior to having any surgery. Not only must they stop smoking, they need to be away from second hand smoke at home if there’s another smoker in the home, and they also need to stay away from clubs or other public areas that might allow smoking. Patients must realize that they have a large part of the responsibility for the outcome of their surgery, and stopping smoking is one of the most important things in that regard.
We’re all aware of the cancer risks associated with smoking, and yet many times that’s still not enough incentive to stop. Smoking is also incredibly aging to skin, especially to facial skin. Patients who smoke generally look much older than their peers. Ironically, many of my patients started smoking at a young age specifically because they did want to look older. They probably didn’t have wrinkled skin around the eyes, discolored teeth, or severely drawn and lined skin around their mouths in mind the first time they picked up a cigarette.
Even if you as a patient are willing to accept those negatives, why do we require you stop smoking prior to surgery? Complications can include:
Incomplete or delayed healing due to nicotine affected constricted blood vessels
Increased risk of infection
More intense and longer lasting bruises
Raised, red scars
It’s important to quit smoking at least two weeks prior to surgery. Not doing so will lead to the postponement of your surgery. This isn’t a negotiable point, so if your surgery date is important to you, if your breast augmentation, facelift or abdominoplasty is important to you, please plan accordingly. Allow time to quit smoking.
Now the fact is, like most cosmetic surgeons, we don’t do blood tests to confirm that you’ve quit smoking, and you could “mislead” or hedge a bit on your smoking habits prior to surgery. I would really hate for any patient to spend the time and money to have a cosmetic procedure done only to negate the improvements with the damage smoking can do during recovery and beyond. Don’t cheat yourself!
Most of our patients who have stopped smoking prior to their surgery, and during their recovery do not return to smoking. If you have already stopped smoking and are now dealing with the skin damage a lifetime of smoking caused, we can help you improve the look and feel of your skin. There are several options available, and a treatment plan can be tailored to your lifestyle and desired outcome.
Good luck to all of those who have a resolution to stop smoking this year! We’ll be rooting for you!