The benefits of smoking cessation are numerous and have been documented extensively here in Consumer Health Digest, peer-reviewed medical journals, not to mention by the Surgeon General!
There is, however, one topic that is not commonly addressed; the importance of stopping smoking before and after surgery, particularly with cosmetic, plastic surgery.
If you are a smoker who is considering a facelift or another procedure, there are dangers to smoking that you may not have considered that can seriously affect your surgery’s outcomes and even safety.
Plastic surgeons strongly advise patients to stop smoking both before and after your procedure. If not, the consequences can be dangerous or potentially fatal. Risks include blood clots, increased scarring, and infection.
The Importance of Smoking Cessation Before Undergoing Your Facelift
The benefits of stopping smoking at any time are too numerous to mention and, at the very least, when you stop, you will see an improvement in both your physical and financial health.
If you are a smoker considering a facelift, there are many dangers you may not know about that can affect your surgery’s outcome.
For this reason, plastic surgeons strongly advise patients to cease smoking at least two weeks in advance of their procedure and two weeks post-surgery to facilitate the recovery process.
Below is a list of health problems that all plastic surgery patients need to consider several weeks prior to having a facelift.
When you prepare for surgery, it is important for your health to be optimized as much as possible. Anesthesia puts stress on the body, so making sure you are fit and healthy means you are in the best shape to deal with that stress.
If you are smoking, it is impossible for your lungs and cardiovascular systems to be working at its best, meaning the likelihood of complications is increased.
Blood Clots and Strokes
All surgeries carry a risk of blood clots and smoking increases the risk of these heart and circulatory complications. Blood clots can lead to strokes that can be potentially fatal, so it is crucial that you do absolutely everything you can to reduce that risk.
Recovery Time and Healing Process
While smoking increases the risks during surgery, it can also significantly delay the healing process. A healthy blood flow is essential to expediting the recovery process.
As your body rebuilds, its cells need a sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients for optimum healing.
Tobacco’s nicotine, carbon monoxide and multiple other chemicals in cigarettes reduce the amount of these essential ingredients in the body’s blood.
Carbon monoxide decreases red blood cells ability to bind oxygen and nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, diminishing the amount of oxygen delivered to healing tissue as well as generation of new cells, inhibiting the body’s healing process.
Necrosis and Scarring
Decreased blood flow can cause “necrosis,” a process where tissue actually dies. Necrosis sounds like it would happen only in extreme circumstances, but even relatively minor necrosis levels can cause problems that are otherwise easily avoidable.
When cells don’t regrow, it can lead to wound separation and more noticeable scarring, which can be spread and raised with possible discoloration.
One of the biggest risks following any type of surgery is infection. Slow or non healing wounds increase the risk of infection.
One reason why many patients choose surgery is to get rid of wrinkles and aging skin. Ironically, smoking causes these exact skin problems. If you want to enjoy the benefits of such a procedure, you should be willing to put the effort in to help maintain the best results possible.
The Good News
When you stop smoking, the risks for many of these issues reduces quickly, with some patients returning to that of a non-smoker in a few years. The health problems caused by smoking are serious and something that should be avoided at all costs.
The manner in which the chemicals consumed via smoking affect the body can be disastrous for any surgical wounds as well as the body’s healing processes.
Advice for Quitting
The most ideal course of action would be to quit smoking permanently. What better way to celebrate your post-surgery look than with a new lease on life and improvement to your health that stopping smoking provides?
If you don’t feel able to commit to quitting completely, the benefits of stopping for a period before and after your surgery are huge. It is important that you are honest with your surgeon about your smoking habits, so they are aware of any potential risks or complications.
If you need help with quitting, your doctor can recommend a number of different things that can help. They can suggest support groups and online resources that can offer advice and peer support. There are medications that can be prescribed, which can help anyone who desires to stop smoking.
Many people manage to quit by using nicotine replacement therapies such as gum, lozenges or patches. While these are a great way to cut down and quit, it is important to remember that a number of the risks of smoking relating to surgery are a result of nicotine consumption.
For this reason, it is not advised that you use these methods in the weeks before your surgery. For any further advice or information regarding quitting smoking, or how your surgery and recovery may be affected, your surgeon will be more than happy to help. Make sure you raise any questions you may have during your initial consultation.
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