Any way you look at it, smoking is bad. Period. We know that it is extremely detrimental to one’s general health and is associated with premature aging and death, a multitude of diseases and cancers and even reduced quality of life. Did you also know that it can even adversely affect the outcome of cosmetic surgery?
Since starting my plastic surgery practice in Scottsdale over 23 years ago, I have informed my smoking patients of the markedly elevated attendant risks of smoking with surgical procedures and their outcomes. By chemically causing a constriction (narrowing) of the blood vessels in one’s tissues, there can be a significant reduction in the blood supply translating to less oxygen and nutrients that reach the tissues which at times can be quite critical. In areas that have undergone surgery, that can clinically mean delayed or improper healing or even the lack of survival of some tissue resulting in the need for such corrective reconstructive procedures as skin grafting.
Though I strongly encourage all of my smoking patients to make a serious effort to stop permanently, I do request and many times demand that they at least stop smoking for a period of time prior to certain cosmetic procedures where the impact from smoking can be far more severe. The most common of these procedures that are at higher risk for substantial healing problems including skin necrosis (where the skin turns black and dies) include face lifts, tummy tucks, body lifts and to a slightly lesser extent, breast reductions, breast lifts and breast reconstruction.
Patients undergoing these procedures are instructed to avoid smoking for one month prior to surgery and continue this abstinence until two to four week following their surgery. Just a few cigarettes prior to or after surgery can still be quite harmful.
Over the years, I have found that the group of patients with the highest rate of healing problems and complications are active smokers. Even chronic smokers who were able to stop for this period of time did better than those who continued their noxious habit.
Is it worth the prolonged healing time, expenses, inconveniences and compromised aesthetic results just to continue smoking?
If you have questions regarding any plastic surgery procedure that I perform or even the effects of smoking on the potential results or if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, please call my office at 480-451-3000.
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona