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I Stopped Smoking a Week Ago, my Breast Lift Surgery is in 6 Weeks. What Are my Risks?

Hello, I'm currently 160 pounds/5'6. I just stopped smoking a week ago (5 years of smoking). And currently on a diet. I am planning on having a breast lift once I reach 143 pounds. I'm 28, & completly terrified of something bad happening during surgery. What are the chances of something bad happening, & what should I know before moving forward? Thnx!

Doctor Answers (18)

Smoking and breast lift surgery


Hi, the usual recommendation before any surgical procedures on smokers is to stop smoking at least 3 weeks before and 3 weeks after the surgery. different surgeons can have different recommendations but in general this is the minimum amount of time required to decrease your risk of complications down to normal or close to it.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Risks associated with smoking

If patients do not stop smoking for at least 4 weeks before surgery, their surgery may be rescheduled. Please tell your surgeon that you've just stopped a week ago.

These are the complications associated with smoking:

Your Breathing
Smokers are more likely to experience breathing problems following surgery than non-smokers (40% compared to 11%) because tobacco smoke damages the lining of the lungs. When the lungs are compromised, they are less efficient in clearing away waste (secretions and particles). This, coupled with the decreased efficacy of a smoker's immune system, can lead to post-operative infections and/or pneumonia.

Your Heart
The nicotine in cigarettes affects nervous systems, leading to faster heart rates (heart stress) and high blood pressure. Combined with the carbon monoxide present in tobacco smoke, a substance that reduces the body's ability to transport oxygen to the heart, smokers become much more susceptible to heart attacks (at a rate of 80% higher than non-smokers). Heart stress is also much more commonly witnessed by anaesthesiologists.

A smoker's compromised immune system leads to a rate of post-operative wound infection that is six times higher than non-smokers.

Fortunately, patients who stop smoking before surgery are able to protect themselves from many of the complications that can occur during their procedure. Taking this precaution reduces surgical risks and may help create a more successful treatment outcome.

Wound repair
Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide that reduces the ability of the red blood cells in a smoker's body from transporting oxygen throughout the body. The presence of carbon monoxide in the blood is reduced by half when no cigarettes are smoked for four hours and, better yet, is reduced to a safe level if cigarettes are avoided for eight hours. Stopping smoking before and after surgery helps oxygen to more effectively travel throughout the body, an essential tool in warding off infection and successful wound healing.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Smoking and surgery

Here are the major points of smoking Tobacco or Marijuana before or after surgery:
1. There is nicotine in tobacco, but not in marijuana. However, most joints are rolled with marijuana and tobacco combination. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that decreases blood flow to the tissues. This is the major problems that can cause a very bad outcome in some surgeries. In a breast augmentation, there is not a lot of risk as there are not a lot of incisions which decrease blood flow to the tissues. In a breast lift or tummy tuck, on the other hand, there is much longer and more involved incisions. The decrease in blood flow to the tissues in combination with the decrease in blood flow from the nicotine can cause tissue to die. This can cause part of the breast or nipple, or in the case of a tummy tuck, part of the belly tissue to die, resulting in a very bad outcome. This is especially bad in breast reductions or face lifts. Marijuana without tobacco does not cause this problem, or marijuana in an edible fashion. Vaporizers do not decrease the amount of nicotine in tobacco, only decrease the smoke.
2. There is carbon monoxide in both tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke. Carbon monoxide decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin in the blood. This is different from the vasoconstrictor effect, but has the same result of having the risk of tissue death in conjunction with surgeries that decrease the blood flow to tissues such as breast lifts and tummy tucks, as opposed to an augmentation alone that does not decrease blood flow to as great of an extent. Again, edible forms of marijuana do not have smoke, and thus carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. Coughing. Both tobacco and marijuana smoke disrupt the lining of the lungs and bronchi and can lead to coughing episodes. Coughing episodes can lead to internal bleeding after surgery that can lead to hematomas and complications, and again a bad outcome. Again, edible forms of marijuana does not have this effect.
4. Anesthesia effects. Marijuana can have drug interactions with certain anesthetic drugs. Thus it is important to tell your anesthesiologist about your marijuana use.
In conclusion, Smoking, whether it be tobacco or marijuana, is detrimental to your surgery outcome. Edible marijuana is much less so, but be honest about your use with your surgeon and anesthesiologist so that you can have the best outcome. In general, you should quite smoking many weeks, ideally 6 weeks before surgery, and not smoke for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

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I stopped smoking a week ago, my breast lift surgery is in 6 weeks. What are my risks?

Hello! Thank you for your question!   I applaud you for your smoking cessation!  The issue with nicotine is that it also acts as a vasoconstrictor, clamping down of blood vessels. Blood supply is always of great concern during any surgical procedure, but especially in such a procedure as a mastopexy where the viability of the nipple-areolar complex is obviously important. Since the vascularity to the area is already tenuous since it will be raised by cutting around the area, maximizing blood flow to the tissue is critical.

Typically, we recommend at least 6 weeks of smoking cessation prior to any surgical procedure. Nicotine always increases the risk for infection, nipple necrosis, and wound complications, as well as other health consequences. I would discuss this with your surgeon prior to your procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
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Breast Lift and Smoking


The best available scientific evidence regarding smoking and skin flap survival (in the laboratory animal models) is 4 weeks. Whether 4 weeks is the magical time period to abstain from cigarettes (including nicotine patches) prior to surgery is difficult to quantify.

If you continue to optimise your weight and also avoid nicotine in all its forms then you have done everything to ensure a safe operation. The rest is up to your surgeon and his/her staff.

Hope this helps and good luck.


Pouria Moradi, MBBS, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon
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I Stopped Smoking a Week Ago, my Breast Lift Surgery is in 6 Weeks


In all the lift procedures plastic surgeons perform, the blood supply to the lifted tissue is markedly diminished. Adding the strong decrease in blood flow caused by nicotine's constriction of small blood vessels, contributes to an unacceptable risk of wound healing complications. 

Seven weeks of no smoking should leave you near "normal" risk. Most important is the month or so after surgery. 

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Smoking realted complications


Thanks for your question and congratulations on your first week without smoking.  If you continue to abstain for the next 4-6 weeks, I do not think you will experience any nicotine related complications.  Good luck.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
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Smoking and Breast Lift Risks?


You should be congratulated on the steps you are taking prior to your breast lift operation. Achieving a long-term stable weight and avoidance of any nicotine products for at least 4 weeks prior to surgery will maximize the chances of a successful outcome.

Nicotine is a powerful constrictor of blood vessels,  decreasing blood flow to the “flaps” used during these procedures. This decrease blood flow could potentially lead to wound healing problems and/or tissue necrosis.

Communicate your question regarding the timing of smoking  cessation with your plastic surgeon. Best wishes with your upcoming operation.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 781 reviews

Smoking can be disastrous in any type of surgical procedure


Dear Terrie,


Thank you for your question. As long as you don't pick up another cigarette - you are good to go! And please, please abstain from smoking after your procedure as this can be equally disastrous!

Best wishes,

Dr. H 

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 129 reviews

Smoking and breast lift


Thank you for the question, Surgeons differ on the timing to stop smoking before surgery. Usually 4-6weeks is considered a safe period. You to refrain from smoking for anther 4-6 week after surgery and if you can give it up, that will be another good thing  for you beside weight loss.

Moneer Jaibaji, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.