Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that tobacco usage increases the risk of lung, mouth, throat, esophageal, and stomach cancers. Smoking will also increase the chance for other health concerns including bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema, stroke, and aneurysms. 20% of all deaths in the United States can be linked to smoking.
There are several reasons for smokers to quit. Individuals planning to have surgery, including aesthetic enhancements like a facelift, tummy tuck, or breast augmentation have additional motivation. Smoking can compromise their body’s ability to heal correctly and add to the risks for complications.
Smoking Increases Surgery Risks
Smoking constricts blood vessels and constrains oxygen from binding with them. These effects will reduce oxygen levels in the blood cells, which limit your body’s wound healing capacity. The hazards for smokers after their operation include tissue death, raised scarring, and poor wound healing. Patients who smoke carry a higher risk of infection and anesthesia complications as well.
Because smoking poses a higher risk for post-surgical issues, board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Livingston has strict guidelines when performing an operation on individuals who smoke. He commits his practice to the safety of his patients and wants to ensure they have the best chance for optimal results.
Smoking and Plastic Surgery Recovery
Successful surgery depends on a healthy blood supply; adequate blood flow is vital for an effective recovery. During surgery, Dr. Livingston will move tissue to correct aesthetic concerns, and these alterations will decrease some of the body’s natural blood flow, but not enough to inhibit the natural healing process – usually.
An essential component for any surgery allowing enough blood flow to carry its natural healing properties to the incision and altered tissue. If an adequate amount of blood does not reach the site of the surgery, there is a lack of oxygen, and the injured tissue will not heal properly or die.
Smoking and Plastic Surgery Results
Plastic surgery limits normal blood circulation to the treatment area. For a procedure to be successful, the surgeon must allow enough blood to reach the affected tissue, and the blood vessels must be intact. Although there are certain conditions which can limit blood circulation, nothing is more restrictive than smoking tobacco. Nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide are all dangerous elements of tobacco, but nicotine is the by far the most hazardous.
Smoking and Anesthesia
Clinical studies indicate smokers need 33% more anesthesia than non-smokers for surgery. They also require 23% more pain medication after surgery. Even patients exposed to second-hand smoke will require 20% more anesthesia and 18% more pain medication. These studies prove the risk of complications from anesthesia is higher for smokers than for non-smokers.
Nicotine and Healing
Because nicotine makes blood vessels smaller and hinders blood flow, it can also increase the risk of clotting. This complication is serious because clotting will decrease blood supply and cause wounds to slow down or stop healing.
There are questions about vaping. Many patients think this alternative to smoking is healthier and may be appropriate before and after surgery. This impression is not correct. Vaping with nicotine is worse than smoking tobacco.
Hints to Quit
Although many individuals quit cold turkey, others need help. There are many aids to help and here are a few:
- Prescription drugs like Bupropion and Chantix
- Online or Community support groups
- Nicotine replacement products (not suitable before or after surgery)
Available products or treatments each have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Individuals must find which process works best for their lifestyle. The proper solution will help ensure the patient quits for good.
If you are a smoker and are considering plastic surgery, make sure you tell your surgeon during your consultation. To learn more about smoking and plastic surgery, contact Livingston Plastic Surgery today