It is well established that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of surgical complications and can compromise plastic surgery outcomes. However, if you enjoy “vaping,” or smoking electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), you may be wondering if it presents the same risks as traditional cigarettes. Dr. Carlos Chacon of Divino Plastic Surgery in Bonita explains what you need to know here.
How Smoking Increases the Risks of Plastic Surgery
Smoking increases the risk of complications during and after plastic surgery in a number of ways.
For example, the nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood supply to the skin. In many plastic surgery procedures, such as facelift, breast reduction and tummy tuck, the surgical incisions also reduce the normal flow of blood to the tissues. The combination of reduced blood flow due to the incisions and due to smoking is dangerous. Nicotine also decreases the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the skin and tissues. Reduced blood and oxygen flow affects the way that scars heal and can lead to tissue death.
Smoking also introduces carbon monoxide into the system; carbon monoxide steals oxygen away from the healing tissues. This can prolong healing time, lead to poor scarring and other complications.
Another way that smoking is dangerous to plastic surgery patients is that it irritates the linings of the lungs, which causes coughing fits. Repeated coughing can lead to internal bleeding, hematomas and other complications during the recovery.
Vaping Can Involve Nicotine
Nicotine, not smoke, is what constricts the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the healing tissues. And many e-cigarettes contain nicotine (in addition to water, additives and flavorings). This makes them a clear risk to plastic surgery patients.
Quitting smoking is one of the smartest things a plastic surgery patient can do; not only does it increase the odds of a better surgical outcome, it also improves the patient’s health and life expectancy. Plastic surgeons understand how difficult it is to quit smoking, and most offer cessation aids to help their patients wean off cigarettes.
The general rule of thumb is to quit smoking for four to six weeks prior to surgery, and avoid smoking for at least a month following surgery. This can vary based on the specific procedure performed.
Contact Divino Plastic Surgery
For more information about optimizing your health prior to plastic surgery, please contact Divino Plastic Surgery by phone at (858) 633-7546 or by email.