Most plastic surgeons will tell you that smoking is a deal breaker when it comes
to having a cosmetic procedure. Why? Smoking anything with nicotine slows
healing tremendously and increases the risk of scarring and infection, as well as
Smoking also makes the anesthesia for the surgery itself more difficult because
anesthesiologists have a harder time maintaining tight control of your vitals.
Postoperative pain control is also more difficult in smokers.
Recovering from the “Flap”
Although smoking is considered bad for any kind of plastic surgery, it is
especially harmful for procedures requiring a “flap.” A flap is raised when you are
having a procedure involving removal of skin. Raising a flap means that we’re
actually lifting skin and pulling it tight and then sewing it back together.
The reason this is important is because when we raise a flap, we’re
disconnecting blood vessels from underneath the flap so we can move the skin.
When we disconnect blood vessels, we’re relying on the other blood vessels that
are traveling long distances to that same skin to provide healing oxygen to the
Skin: Your Largest Living Organ
It is important to know that even though the skin is the biggest organ in the body,
it has some of the smallest blood vessels in the body. You can see proof of the
effect of smoking on skin as smoker’s age. They get wrinkles a lot faster, and
their skin looks thin and crepey. That’s because, over many years, smoking has
decreased the blood supply to the skin, and without years of adequate blood
supply, the skin looks damaged and older at a much earlier age.
Patients who smoke are at an increased risk for skin necrosis, which is when
areas of skin actually die and turn black. Necrosis of the skin (dying skin) is a difficult problem to deal with after surgery and increases the recovery time significantly. It causes scarring and infections and can, sometimes, lead to hospitalization.
If you’re smoker, learn how you can prepare yourself to undergo surgery by
getting your own copy of my book, “Making the Cut” available for purchase on Amazon. I’ll also touch on this in my next blog post.