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Chances of Complications from Smoking a Month Before Tummy Tuck and Lipo?

I have smoked on and off since I was 15. Never smoked a pack a day, maybe just one or two cigarettes. About a couple of years ago I started to smoke black and milds (cigar) about once a day or every other day. I am supposed to have a tummy tuck with liposuction in my flanks in about a month. I stopped two weeks ago. What are my chances of complications?

Doctor Answers (15)

Smoking and tummy tuck.



It sounds like you will have not smoked for about 6 weeks by the time of your tummy tuck.  I think this is safe.

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Tummy tuck

At least 6 weeks before and then 6 weeks after.

A tummy tuck can be done as a solitary procedure. Many times the results are enhanced by adding liposuction to the hip and love handle area. A tummy tuck is also done in combination with a breast augmentation in a mommy makeover.

Please find an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and member of the Aesthetic Society using the Smart Beauty Guide. These Plastic Surgeons can guide you on all aspects of facial surgery, breast augmentation and body procedures including tummy tucks or mommy makeovers!

Robert Whitfield, MD, FACS
Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Smoking and Tummy Tuck Surgery: Bad Combination



Completely stopping smoking AND all nicotine products before hand makes a big difference. Six weeks is good but studies show that 8 weeks is even better. Here is why:

In addition to its adverse effects on general health, smoking tobacco increases the chance’s of a plastic surgery patient having complications and can negatively affect her results.

Dr. Nichter at the Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery would like to advise prospective patients of the dangers of smoking as they relate to plastic surgery.

A good plastic surgery result relies on good blood flow. The nicotine, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide in the blood of smokers inhibits their blood’s ability to deliver sufficient oxygen to their healing tissues. Thus, patients who smoke are at greater risk of complications and poor wound healing.

A long history of medical studies have shown revealed the risks patients take when they smoke. A  recent study in 2003 reviewed 132 abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) patients. The study “showed wound healing problems in 47.9% of smokers versus 14.8% of non-smokers.”
Whether a plastic surgery candidate smokes or not is a big factor in whether a surgeon will perform surgery on that person or not. At the Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery, patients will be asked about their smoking habits, if any, which will be factored into the doctor’s decisions in her/his case.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

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Smoking and tummy tuck


As the data accumulates you should be tobacco free for at least 4 weeks before and very importantly, 4 weeks after. I have my patients stop for 3 months. I have found that if you can be tobacco less for 3 months you are much less likely to start up again when you are starting to feel better after the surgery.

I can very often tell by the way a wound is healing, when the patient starts smoking again.

John P. Stratis, MD
Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Smoking and Risks of Complications in Cosmetic Surgery


You were correct to stop smoking a few weeks ago if your surgery is in a month. Studies have shown that the complication rates are significantly higher for patients who smoke 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after surgery. The nicotine is the problem. Nicotine causes constriction of blood vessels so the amount of blood getting to the skin edges of the wound after surgery can be severely effected by smoking and nicotine. The bad news is that nicotine patches and gums are not a good alternative to smoking because they have the nicotine in them as well. So you are best off to avoid all cigarettes, cigars, nicotine gums and patches for the month preceding and following your surgery. The complications can be severe in a tummy tuck with skin flap wound healing issues like breakdown of the incision to loss of the skin of the abdomen or belly button. It is not worth the risk!

Kent V. Hasen, MD
Naples Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Chances of complication from smoking before Liposuction and Tummy Tuck


Much, much lower, but never zero.

We THINK that some of the poorer blood supply complications are caused by blood vessels spasms/constriction. No scientific paper has yet proven definitively when you are TOTALLY safe. So - what to do? How long can you last without Nicotine? The longer the better.

Good Luck.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Smoking and surgery


The complication rate is significantly higher in smokers. Most surgeons would have patients top smoking for 3-4 weeks prior to surgery and continue non-smmoking 3-4 weeks after surgery as well. Nicotine patches are not a good substitute either.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Smoking and plastic surgery risks.


I congratulate you for quiting smoking. Keep it up. It is probably the single best thing you can do for your health. Most studies have shown that stopping smoking for a minimum of one month is the best method to reduce your risks. This places you in the risk categroy of an "ex-smoker" but not necessarily a "non-smoker". Ex-smokers have approximately a 50 times higher risk of complications when compared to non-smokers. It takes about 10-15 years to go from an ex-smoker to a non-smoker.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Smoking and Plastic Surgery


Smoking before plastic surgery is not a good combination. You are having an elective procedure and you want everything to be in your favor for a good outcome. Smoking interferes with blood supply to the skin and wound healing. If you have quit about a month before surgery then you will probably be okay - however the effects from smoking are long term and nothing is for certain. However, you have to be honest with your self and with your surgeon. There is no doubt that smokers have more complications after plastic surgery.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Impossible to say


I advise all patients to stop smoking a month before and after tummy tuck. The problem is that the procedure itself will compromise blood supply, and the smoking may add the one-two punch to cause tissue loss, or slow wound healing. Additionally, other procedures like liposuction may also increase risk of problems, so you may want to do this at another sitting.


Scott E. Kasden, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 45 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.