Quit Smoking

Dr. Shah’s Patient Pointers The number-one reason for undergoing cosmetic surgery is to enhance appearance and boost self-esteem. That being said, one would think patients would follow their doctor’s orders…especially if non-compliance could negatively impact their post-surgery results. However, when it comes to smoking and surgery, this is often not the case. Every year a number of patients ignore their surgeon’s warnings and continue to smoke both prior to and following cosmetic procedures. The result is that too many have cautionary tales to tell. As a patient of Beautologie, your health, well-being, and achieving a most superior surgical result are of personal importance to Dr. Shah. Once you choose to undergo cosmetic surgery at Beautologie, you are under the care of Dr. Darshan Shah and his supportive staff. Educating patients about the dangers of mixing smoking and surgery and assisting them in their quests to quit are part of his personal approach to plastic procedures.

What's the Danger?

To convince you of the necessity of quitting smoking, it is helpful that you understand how exactly smoking interferes with surgery and surgical results. In general, smoking is dangerous in terms of plastic surgery in two ways:

First of all, nicotine causes the tiny blood vessels in the skin to clamp down or constrict (termed “vasoconstriction”), which reduces blood supply to the skin.

Secondly, the carbon monoxide replaces nutrient-rich oxygen in the blood. These two impediments work together to limit the amount of oxygen that makes its way to the site of the incision. It is oxygen that serves to nourish a wound, causing it to heal properly.

Smoking in the weeks before or after surgery increases the probability of skin and/or organ complications including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Impaired and/or delayed wound healing
  • Greater risk of infection
  • Greater risk of pulmonary (lung) problemsMore extensive and longer-lasting bruising
  • Hypertrophic or keloid (thick, fibrous tissue) scarring
  • Death or breakdown of skin or other tissue

Another negative is that, while smoking would affect any surgical procedure, it is even more of a detriment to cosmetic surgeries. The reason for this is that, even though the skin is the largest organ in the body, it has the tiniest blood vessels. After cosmetic procedures, it is the skin that needs to heal, and this is impacted by how much oxygen can reach it through these already miniscule vessels. Obviously, if the incision can’t heal properly, the ultimate aesthetic result of the surgery will be less than favorable. In other words, you’re willingly sacrificing the enhanced appearance that was the goal of the surgery in the first place.

Finally, the repercussions of smoking are not limited to an unsightly appearance, and you don’t even have to be a smoker yourself to be at risk. The actual surgery is more dangerous if you have been exposed, even secondhand, to nicotine and carbon monoxide, because you are then coming into the procedure with constricted blood vessels and lower oxygen levels. This sets you up for an increased chance of complications from the anesthesia, in addition to decreased blood supply to the vital organs. Because of this, Dr. Shah recommends that patients should not only quit smoking prior to undergoing plastic surgery, but they should limit exposure to secondhand smoke whenever possible.

Playing It Safe for Superior Results

So how far in advance do you need to ban the butts? While some less prudent surgeons advise quitting for only two weeks before and after procedures, Dr. Shah is among the most cautious, insisting that patients quit smoking for at least one month prior and at least three months after all procedures.

Dr. Shah is extremely empathetic to the difficulty involved in giving up cigarettes. However, he is simply not willing to jeopardize a patient’s safety by performing a surgery under anything but optimal conditions. He remedies this plight by going above and beyond what is expected of cosmetic surgeons: He takes it on as his personal mission to assist patients in quitting smoking prior to their procedures.

Dr. Shah’s Help on Your Quest to Quit

Dr. Shah has been enormously successful in helping patients quit smoking by providing encouragement, working with them to develop a plan of action, and utilizing new pharmaceutical advances—among them the increasingly promising Chantix.

What is Chantix?

Varenicline tartrate, available by prescription and marketed under the name Chantix, is an anti-smoking medication approved by the FDA in May of 2006. The way it works is twofold: First and most uniquely, while it is completely nicotine free, it partially activates nicotine receptors in the brain, which dramatically reduces a person’s cravings. Secondly, it blocks nicotine itself from binding with these receptors, so if a person does smoke, their satisfaction will be greatly impeded.

Research and patient reviews about Chantix have been positive: According to consumer website About.com, studies have shown Chantix to be more effective at helping people quit smoking than either Zyban or a placebo. Side effects reported are usually minimal, most commonly identified as mild nausea immediately after taking the medication.

What's the Real Goal?

Dr. Shah believes the most important thing is that you do quit prior to and following your cosmetic procedure(s), regardless of whether you use a medication like Chantix, sheer willpower, or a behavioral method such as hypnosis. And he is willing to offer assistance in any way possible by providing medication, pointing you in the direction of interpersonal and online resources, and of course, good old-fashioned support and encouragement.

For smoking and plastic surgery, the long and short of the situation is this: If you are undergoing cosmetic surgery in an effort to enhance your appearance, be aware that smoking is in direct opposition to achieving this goal. Not only are you sacrificing the best possible aesthetic result, but you could actually end up looking worse than before your procedure due to the excessive bruising and scarring that may result from improper healing. Furthermore, with Dr. Shah’s help in successfully quitting for good, you will not only look your best post surgery, but you will have made a priceless move toward protecting your health and improving your overall quality of life.

Online resources for education, tips, and support include the following:

  • SmokeFree.gov
  • QuitSmoking.About.com
  • Anti-Smoking.org
  • QuitSmokingOnline.com
  • QuitNet.com

For more information about Chantix, visit Chantix.com.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Dr. Shah and his team can help boost your appearance as well as safeguard your health, call Beautologie today to schedule a consultation.

Content written and approved by Darshan Shah, MD Plastic Surgeon.

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