Dr Ellis Choy, Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon explains the top three reasons he wont perform elective Cosmetic or Plastic Surgery on a patient who is a smoker.
“As a Plastic Surgeon I am also a doctor” explains Dr Choy, which brings with it the responsibility to promote better health for all patients, regardless of their decision to undergo cosmetic surgery. The dangers of smoking are well known and documented. It can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and can cause cancer. The bottom line here is that smoking is not good for your health. “I like to show my patients the silver lining’ states Dr Choy. The decision to undergo elective cosmetic surgery is usually done to better oneself and can be life changing. There is no reason why patients cant use this as the motivation to make positive changes that will benefit their health and wellbeing.
Smoking causes premature ageing. Whether in the breast, face or body, tissue becomes more lax, which in turn, creates more sag. Dr Choy says that smoking post elective cosmetic surgery works against the patient getting the best possible outcome, both in the short term recovery period, but also in the long term. Once you have decided to undergo cosmetic surgery, you are investing a lot, both financially and emotionally so the patient should be committed to achieving long lasting, optimal results.
Multiple scientific studies demonstrate that smoking is associated with a significant increase in wound related problems post surgery. This is so because the affect of nicotine on the peripheral blood vessels which can delay our bodies natural healing capacity. It also means that our bodies have less resistance to infection.
Smoking also affects the oxygen levels in our blood which means complications such as necrosis or tissue death are greatly increased. When it comes to particularly complicated procedures such as facelift, breast lift, breast reduction and tummy tuck, the risk is even higher.
At the end of the day, elective surgery is a choice and a patient needs to be confident that the work a surgeon performs on them is going to work in the long term. In this way, a surgical triumph could end up as a failure because of collateral factors such as comprised wound healing caused by smoking. Operating under these circumstances would feel like a disservice to the patient explains Dr Choy and so for this reason, he chooses not to perform elective cosmetic surgery on patients who are smokers.
If you are currently a smoker, you should aim to quit smoking or nicotine replacement therapy no later then 4 weeks prior to surgery and 4 weeks post surgery, but ideally for life.
If you want to quit smoking, the following link may be a helpful resource: