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Why Must I Stop Smoking Before Plastic Surgery?

The day of your plastic surgery consultation is finally here and you can barely contain your excitement as you head to your surgeon’s office.  You get there, discuss the procedure you want to have, and are amped over the results that are possible.  Naturally, you want to schedule your surgery as soon as possible as you’ve wanted to make certain aesthetic improvements for quite some time.  Then, a wrench gets thrown into your plans.  You’re told you have to stop smoking before plastic surgery or else the surgeon will not perform your desired procedure.  Obviously, this delay is not something you expected, but it is absolutely necessary.

How Long Must You Quit?

The time that you must quit smoking before plastic surgery will vary according to each surgeon’s recommendations.  However, the majority of cosmetic surgeons will tell you that you must not only give up cigarettes for 4 to 6 weeks prior to surgery, but also after.  The absolute minimum is 2 weeks, but most plastic surgeons will suggest a longer time frame to ensure their patients are not at risk of unnecessary complications.

No Quitting, No Surgery

If you do not stop smoking for the time that your plastic surgeon has advised, don’t be surprised if he or she will not perform your procedure.  Over the course of the past 10 years, most plastic surgeons have come to the consensus that when skin has to be moved during a procedure such as a breast lift or face lift, they will not operate on smokers.  The reason; failure to quit smoking before surgery can lead to disastrous results and in areas where surgery is performed, the skin may become discolored, turn red, or darken.

In an interview with the New York Times on the topic of patients and pre-surgery smoking, Dr. Darshan Shah said, “Nicotine causes the tiny blood vessels in the skin to clamp down or constrict, which reduces blood supply to the skin.”  Aside from discoloration, smokers seeking surgery could fail to heal properly after procedures, have an increased risk of infection, take longer to recover, and may develop unattractive red scars.

Tips to Quit Smoking before Plastic Surgery

Within two weeks’ time, the toxins and nicotine that have accumulated in your body from smoking will be cleansed from your system.  Even though your body has rebounded, your desire to smoke may still be present and so it is advised that you have strategies in place to help you.  One thing you can do is keep your mind on your goal to have plastic surgery.  Envision how great you’re going to look and feel afterward and hold that vision any time you feel tempted to have a cigarette.

Another recommendation is to keep your mouth busy.  Gum, hard candy, and lozenges are tasty and can drastically reduce your chances of turning to smoking.  Finally, rally your close family and friends to get support.  Tell them about your desire to have plastic surgery and ask them to encourage you to remain smoke-free.  When you’re feeling the urge to smoke, you can call on your friends and family to distract and motivate you.  Having their support and encouragement can truly make a world of difference.