Smoking Pre & Post Cosmetic Surgery

Smoking Pre & Post Cosmetic Surgery


Even today, smoking and the use of nicotine products are very common. Any medical professional will advise you to try and cut down / stop smoking for your health, however, using nicotine products and smoking pre and post cosmetic surgery can cause specific complications. With any surgery, there are always risks of complications, but smoking can increase the probability of these risks, as well as potentially encountering more. If you are a smoker, please speak to your surgeon about how this may affect your procedure/healing process. 

What are the risks?

-Skin necrosis or premature cell death
-Increases the risk of anaesthesia
-Increases the risk of heart issues
-Deformity in the visual outcome of the surgery
-Compromised healing
-Decreased quality of collagen
-Serious complications in breast surgery
-Higher risk of infection

Any surgical process needs to have favourable conditions for the best results, this includes a nutrient-rich blood supply to the affected areas to promote faster healing. Smoking can affect these conditions. 

Skin Necrosis or Premature Cell Death:

The nicotine that is present in cigarettes and other smoking products causes vasoconstriction or narrowing of the blood vessels. This will decrease the flow of blood, and therefore oxygen, to the affected area. This can delay tissue healing, which can lead to skin necrosis (premature death of the cells) at the surgery site. Skin necrosis leaves the sufferer with black, hard, and leathery skin. 

Increases the risk of anaesthesia:

Anaesthesia is used in surgery to reduce spasms and coughing, during and after a surgical procedure. Smoking irritates the lungs, meaning that more anaesthesia needs to be used during surgery to reduce the risk of spasms. Smoking also increases the general risks associated with anaesthesia.  

Increases the risk of heart issues:

Smoking compromises your heart function, so the risk of having heart complications, not only during but after the procedure, is greatly increased. Smokers are 53% more likely to have severe lung and heart problems as a result of having a surgical procedure.

Deformity in the visual outcome of the surgery:

Using nicotine products before or after a procedure increases the level of carbon monoxide in the blood. Adequate blood and oxygen supply is vital for any procedure, as mentioned previously, so the lack of this can cause a deformity in the visual outcome of the surgery. This is especially common for facial plastic surgery.

Compromised healing: 

Nicotine in smoking products increases the adhesiveness of blood platelets. This can cause a decrease in the amount of blood that can reach the tissue, as well as block small arteries in the body. 

Decreased Quality of Collagen:

Smoking reduces macrophages, fibroblasts, and red blood cells present in the body. This, in turn, reduces the quality of collagen produced in the body. This is another factor that can potentially slow down healing

Serious complications in breast surgery:

Smoking can cause incredible complications after a breast lift procedure. The combination of nicotine and carbon monoxide present in smoking products diminishes the blood flow to the nipples. This can cause extreme complications, such as the nipples turning black, and even falling off. 

Higher Risk of Infection:

As discussed previously, smoking can have a detrimental effect on the healing process after plastic surgery, and with any type of delayed healing, there is a much higher risk of infection. Surgical procedures always have a risk of infection, but having compromised quality of blood, as well as overall blood flow, can increase this risk greatly.

How do I reduce these risks?

Smoking pre and post cosmetic surgery is something that medical professionals need to be aware of. If you smoke, speak to your surgeon about your risks, and they can give you tailored advice depending on what procedure you’re having done. Generally, it is advised that you stop using any smoking products for 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after your surgery. If you are a long-term smoker, then a lot of the risks will still be high, but this is something you can discuss with your surgeon. If you can’t stop smoking, your surgeon may refuse to perform the procedure due to the associated risks. 


A lot of these risks are frightening for someone who is already facing the risks that come with any surgical procedure and the use of anaesthetic. However, informing your surgeon of your history of smoking means that they can plan around this for your procedure. Generally, it is better to assume that you should stop smoking pre and post cosmetic surgery to cut down your risk of any of these symptoms. It is incredibly important to take your surgeon's advice about how long to not use any smoking products, including nicotine patches and gum. 

To book a consultation with Mr. Mark Ho-Asjoe, please call 020 7403 8694 or email