plastic surgery and smoking
Chances are, if you’re considering cosmetic surgery, you are the kind of person who takes pride in their appearance, and is relatively health conscious too. Looking after yourself, in both body and mind, is considered more of a necessity than an option these days. We have given ourselves the green light to go ahead with whatever health, beauty or fitness plan that suits us, and we no longer have pangs of guilt whenever we practise self care.
So, when it comes to plastic surgery and smoking, the two sit rather uncomfortably together these days. Smoking is less common than it ever has been, but for those who still partake it can be an issue if they are considering cosmetic procedures. Smoking before plastic surgery is to be avoided, and the reasons why are significant. The combination of plastic surgery and smoking is not a favourable one, and you will be advised to quit, temporarily if not permanently, by any reputable surgeon.
Why should I quit?
It’s understandable that, if you are fit and healthy in all other aspects of your life, you would want to know why plastic surgery and smoking combined is such a serious issue. Let’s take a look at the medical evidence to find out.
Plastic surgery is different to other types of surgery. The way incisions are made, and the tissue and skin is manipulated during cosmetic surgery, means that ensuring enough oxygen reaches the blood cells is absolutely crucial. If it doesn’t there is a higher chance that the wound will heal more slowly, or in extreme cases the skin can die and need to be removed altogether. So where does smoking fit into this rather unpleasant picture? Well, nicotine is very effective at preventing oxygen from reaching the cells. The body needs these cells to be functioning effectively so that the wounds from your plastic surgery can heal. If they don’t heal, the skin can die or become badly infected.
Then there is the higher chance of blood clots forming in the legs if you are a smoker. This can become even more serious if these clots travel to the lungs. In some cases it can be fatal. The risk of heart attacks and strokes is also increased if you continue smoking before plastic surgery.
If you are a smoker and you undergo a general anaesthetic you are more likely to suffer complications. Smoking causes a reduction in the airway, so breathing is more difficult. The heart then has to work harder, increasing the risk of heart attacks.
It’s important to note that these risks also exist if you are using any other nicotine-containing product, such as vapes.
When should I quit?
Talk to any expert in the field and they will all agree that you MUST stop smoking at least 4-6 weeks prior to any surgery. Here at Enhance Medical Group we insist on testing your system for traces of nicotine on the day of your scheduled surgery. This will detect nicotine from cigarettes, gum, vapes and patches. If any nicotine is present then your surgery will not be able to go ahead, and you may be charged to reschedule your appointment. You may feel that this is harsh, but bear in mind that your safety is our number one priority. No reputable surgeon should go ahead with a procedure if they feel it has added risks. And who knows? You may find that quitting smoking for your surgery means you quit for good, and that’s no bad thing.
How do I quit?
Whether you’ve been a smoker for many years or just a short while, quitting is not for the faint hearted. The benefits are innumerable, and you feel the effects relatively quickly. But it does require commitment and strength of mind. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and giving it up can be a real challenge for some. So, here are some tips to help you stay on track.
Keep busy – having a hobby or a full diary can help keep your mind off cigarettes. Have substitutes to hand – gum and healthy
snacks are good, but try not to substitute one unhealthy habit for another.
Avoid triggers, such as alcohol or smoky environments.
Speak to your doctor about non-nicotine medication options
Finally, try to keep your end goal in mind. Remembering why you are quitting smoking is the best form of motivation.
What about smoking after my procedure?
If you’ve successfully managed to quit smoking for a few weeks prior to your surgery then smoking after plastic surgery may no longer seem appealing. This is the ideal outcome, of course. However, in reality, some people will resume their smoking habit following surgery. If this sounds like you, then there are a couple of things to be aware of. Following surgery, there are some areas of the body that can become infected weeks or months later. The presence of nicotine will impede the body’s ability to heal effectively, and this can lead to complications. If you decide to resume smoking following plastic surgery, it is advisable to wait at least four weeks in order to give your body the best chance of healing effectively.
So, you’ve made the decision to go ahead with plastic surgery. You’ve done all the research, you’ve considered all the pros and cons. Mentally you are prepared, and you have a good support network in place for your recovery period. Being in the best physical shape you can be is the way to give yourself a good head start, and also the best chance of a quick and easy recovery. Eating and drinking the right things, taking exercise and quitting smoking will all put you in the best position to get the most out of your procedure. These measures will allow you to enjoy the results without adding to the potential risks surrounding recovery. And you never know, you might find that the desire to pick up a cigarette has left you, and you have given yourself the ultimate makeover, both inside and out.