Cigarettes/vaping and tobacco products contain chemicals that are harmful to the health of individuals who have undergone plastic surgery or are in the process of having surgery. Patients who smoke and are considering plastic surgery soon are advised to speak to their surgeon about their habit as it can cause specific complications by compromising the healing process.
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PLASTIC SURGERY AND SMOKING/VAPING
Plastic surgery is a process where reconstruction of tissues takes place. Since this is a surgical process, it requires all favourable conditions including nutrient-rich blood supply to affected cells for faster healing. However, when an individual smokes before or after the surgery he or she may be under the increased risks of the following:
SKIN NECROSIS OR PREMATURE CELL DEATH
Nicotine present in Cigarettes and tobacco products can cause vasoconstriction or narrowing of the blood vessels. It decreases the flow of nutrient-rich blood and oxygen to the healing tissues delaying the process of proper cell healing. The continued use of nicotine increases the risk of skin necrosis (premature death of cells) at the site where plastic surgery is done.
Adequate blood supply plays a vital role in any surgical procedure. Smoking/vaping before or after facial plastic surgery increases the level of carbon monoxide in the blood, that decreases the amount of oxygen in the tissues. It can cause a deformity in the visual outcomes of the patients who have undergone facial plastic surgery.
Another risk associated with smoking during plastic surgery is the delay in the healing process of the wound. Nicotine present in tobacco products increases the adhesiveness of blood platelets. Increased platelets level can cause the insufficient supply of blood to the tissues (ischemia) and blocking of small arteries of the body (thrombotic microvascular occlusion).
DECREASED QUALITY OF COLLAGEN
Another adverse effect of smoking after plastic surgery is the reduction of macrophages, fibroblasts and red blood cells present in the body. It reduces the quality of collagen that can be another reason for slower healing of wounds after plastic surgery.
SERIOUS COMPLICATIONS IN BREAST SURGERY
Use of nicotine either before or after the surgical procedure of breast lifts can be quite detrimental for the patients. A toxic combination of nicotine and carbon monoxide present in tobacco products can diminish blood flow to nipples turning them black and even making them fall off post-surgery.
INCREASED RISK OF CHEST INFECTION
Smoking and vaping increases mucus production and breaks down the lung tissues. The combination of smoking/vaping and general anaesthetic can lead to retention of mucus and increase the risk of post-operative chest infection. Coughing can increase the risk of post-operative bleeding and bruising.
Patients who are in the process of getting plastic surgery should stop the use of nicotine products three weeks to one month before plastic surgery.
If the patient has a long history of smoking, he or she should speak to the surgeon beforehand to avoid high risk of complications.
At this point, it becomes essential to highlight one more issue. Cigarette substitutes such as E-cigarettes, pipes, cigars, vaporizers (Vaping), and hookah also have bad nicotine content that produces the same adverse effect on blood vessels. In the same way nicotine chews, gums or patches are also harmful so as a Plastic surgeon based in London we recommend avoiding the use of these tobacco products before and after surgery.