If you have made the decision to undergo plastic surgery, then your surgeon has probably told you not to smoke. While this is a very important step in ensuring you receive optimal results, it doesn’t mean that you can cheat the system by reaching for a substitute. Since nicotine hinders results, not the act of smoking, nicotine gum, patches, chew, snuff, cigarettes, pipes, and even e-cigarettes are off limits.
How Nicotine Hinders Healing
Many smokers may have healed after minor surgeries such as an appendectomy, and don’t feel that quitting smoking is necessary for their plastic surgery procedure. However, plastic surgery procedures differ greatly from other forms of surgery. During general surgery, incisions are made through all layers of tissue. However, with plastic surgery, only the topmost layer of tissue or skin is often removed to get to the internal structures. Once skin is lifted, it can be stretched, pulled, and removed.
When only the topmost layers of the skin are cut, some blood vessels are left untouched, which can supply oxygen to the skin that has been elevated. Nicotine shrinks these blood vessels, restricting blood flow, which means less oxygen to the tissues. This can result in death of tissue, infections, delayed wound healing, thick scars, increased pain, and even life-threating complications.
Follow Your Surgeon’s Recommendations
If you smoke or use nicotine products and are planning on undergoing plastic surgery, be sure to follow your surgeon’s recommendations. This may include quitting smoking 4 weeks before surgery and after surgery to ensure optimal healing.