For the last five to ten years, many plastic and cosmetic surgeons have followed my lead and refused to operate on smokers, especially those seeking a face-lift, tummy tuck, or breast-lift—procedures that require skin to be shifted.
As I shared with New York Times reporter Abby Ellin, the nicotine causes the tiny blood vessels in the skin to clamp down or constrict, which reduces blood supply to the skin. It can also lead to complications such as poor wound healing, increased risk of infection, longer-lasting bruises, and raised, red scars.
I certainly practice what I preached in that article, as Margaret Pyles knows firsthand. The New York Times featured Margaret’s story prominently in the article. At the time, Margaret was a human resources director for youth homes in Bakersfield, who had come to me seeking a breast reduction. I told her that she needed to quit a minimum of thirty days before the surgery. A pack-a-day smoker
since sixteen, she couldn’t face battling her addiction yet again.
But once her back pain grew constant, and her abdominal muscles too flabby for her taste, Margaret came back to see me for a breast reduction, lift, tummy tuck, and liposuction—but not before she quit smoking with the help of Chantix and a hypnotist I had recommended.
She told me both helped her overcome nicotine, but fear really kept her on track. “I was afraid the anesthesia would go wrong, or I’d wake up coughing my head off and split my guts open,” she said. “And I was able to stop.”
The last I heard from her, Margaret had not lit up again and was thrilled that her desire to turn back the clock may also help prolong her life. “I was so focused on wanting the breast reduction more than I wanted the cigarette,” she said.
Learn more about how to make the changes necessary to not only undergo a desired cosmetic procedure, but to have a healthier life by reading my book, “Making the Cut” available for purchase on Amazon.
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