At Northeastern Plastic Surgery, we want you to have the most positive experience possible as you recover from your plastic surgery. That’s why we recommend that all of our patients with a smoking habit stop smoking prior to surgery, and remain tobacco free post-surgery. The many dangers of cigarette smoking are well known, but are you aware of its effects on the body during plastic surgery recovery?

Smoking Restricts Blood Flow

Healing after any injury or surgery requires adequate blood flow to the area. Blood delivers white blood cells to fight infection, red blood cells to stop bleeding, and a bevy of nutrients to promote healing and prevent scarring. Certai

n things can affect this blood flow and the biggest of these is cigarettes.The nicotine in cigarette smoke causes the blood vessels to constrict, which restricts blood flow to the body. If the areas of the body that were worked on don’t receive sufficient blood flow, it will slow healing, increase the risk of developing unsightly scars, and make plastic surgery recovery more difficult overall. The nicotine can also increase the risk of clots forming in small blood vessels and capillaries.

Smoking Means More Medication

A recent study (June 2015) presented at the European Society of Anesthesiology showed that smokers needed 33% more anesthesia throughout their operations and an additional 23% more pain medication during plastic surgery recovery, when compared to non-smokers. Even those who didn’t smoke, but were exposed to secondhand smoke required 20% more anesthesia and 18% more pain medication than non-smokers who weren’t exposed to second hand smoke.

Smoking’s Specific Impact on Plastic Surgery Recovery

Many people who smoke may think, “I’ve never had problems recovering after surgery before, so why should it be a problem now?” The thing is, plastic surgery is different from other types of surgery.

During many plastic surgery procedures, your surgeon is cutting into and manipulating blood vessels as well as skin, muscle, fat, and bone. The manipulation of blood vessels may limit the amount of blood flow to the area of your body being worked on.

For example, during a tummy tuck, some of the blood vessels that normally carry blood to the abdomen are divided. A skilled surgeon knows how to perform the procedure that results in a flatter abdomen, while leaving even blood vessels intact for proper healing. If you smoke, then you’re putting further stress on your circulatory system, which is already somewhat compromised from certain blood vessels being “re-routed.”

That’s not to say that smoking won’t interfere with other types of surgery, like appendectomies, but the blood vessels are not impacted in the same way as they are with plastic surgeries.

Nicotine Alternatives Won’t Help

Unfortunately, replacements for cigarettes such as vaping, nicotine gum, or patches aren’t viable alternatives. It’s not the cigarette smoke, but the nicotine that’s the real culprit in preventing proper plastic surgery recovery because it directly impacts your blood vessels. You can use those alternatives as part of an overall program to quit smoking, but using them indefinitely is not a solution.

The take-home for all of this is straight forward: stop smoking. It’s no more complicated than that.

If you’re a smoker and you are interested in plastic surgery, then talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Fodero. He can further explain the impacts of smoking on plastic surgery recovery, the benefits of quitting smoking, and direct you to resources that can help you quit the cigarette habit.

Northeastern Plastic Surgery understands your desire for a beautiful, youthful looking body and facial appearance. We use the latest plastic surgery techniques to perform a variety of surgical procedures. Dr. Fodero and the staff are very friendly, helpful, and available to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.

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