Las Colinas Centre for Plastic Surgery

Michael R. Whetstone, M.D. Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Las Colinas Centre for Plastic Surgery
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Effects Of Smoking and Plastic Surgery

The negative effects of smoking for a person’s health are undeniable. Smoking can also present negative effects for a person seeking to undergo a plastic surgery procedure. Tobacco products, specifically the nicotine in them, causes significant restriction of blood vessels affecting blood flow and supply to all areas of the body. This effect can be seen regardless of how nicotine is introduced into a person’s body, although cigarette smoke causes the greatest affect. Smoking cigarettes introduces carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, in addition to nicotine, into the body affecting blood flow and limiting tissue from receiving the optimal amount of oxygen.

Importance Of Blood Supply For Plastic Surgery

The ultimate goal of plastic surgery is to move or change the shape of tissues in order to improve appearance and function. In order to accomplish this, blood vessels must be cut or divided, which will in turn affect and alter normal blood supply to varying degrees. An experienced and extensively trained plastic surgeon will be able to perform such procedures without causing damage or significant problems for overall blood supply. An insufficient or restricted blood flow from smoking will not allow tissues to receive the adequate amount of blood supply from compensating vessels, leading to problems with proper healing and even potentially causing tissue to die.

Effects of Smoking For Plastic Surgery Procedures

As mentioned, plastic surgery requires that tissues and blood vessels be moved or altered, which creates a higher risk of complications when a restricted blood blow is already present. Because of this negative effect on the circulatory system, smokers have an increased risk for many procedure-related problems including:

  • Insufficient blood flow and oxygen to tissues
  • Breakdown, destruction, or death of tissues
  • Blood clotting
  • Infection
  • Increased need of anesthesia throughout the procedure

Smoking can cause negative effects for healing from a plastic surgery procedure. Nicotine along with other chemicals found in cigarettes thickens the blood causing blood to clot easier. Thickened blood and clotting combined with already constricted blood vessels will consequently result in clogged capillaries or smaller blood vessels. This significantly decreases blood supply to the tissues and can delay or even impede proper healing.  Improper healing also creates a greater risk for post-op infection and scarring.

Recommendations For Smokers Seeking Plastic Surgery

Due to the seriousness of the complications that can result, many plastic surgeons will refuse to perform surgery on a patient who smokes. At the very least a reputable and ethical plastic surgeon, such as Dr. Michael Whetstone of Las Colinas Centre For Plastic Surgery, will require that patients quit smoking for around four to six weeks prior to surgery and then four to six weeks after surgery.

The negative effects of smoking on a plastic surgery patients’ body are extremely serious and are not taken lightly at Las Colinas Centre For Plastic Surgery. If you currently smoke and are considering a plastic surgery procedure, the best thing you can do is to quit smoking. For more detailed information on the effects of smoking or the requirements for an individual procedure, contact our office today for a free consultation.