Increased Risks from Breast Lift for Smokers?

I am a 46-year-old female and am thinking about a breast lift but my only concern is that I am a smoker and the actual surgery itself scares me. Because of me being a smoker, what would be the increased risks from this surgery?

Doctor Answers (9)

Increased risk of skin death from smoking!


In a breast lift/reduction, a tummy tuck, or a facelift there is a considerable risk of skin death and massive wound healing problems and resultant permanent scars. This is because the nicotine constricts the blood supply to the skin that is being further compromised by lifting and tightening it. Nicotine gums, patches and even second hand smoke have the same effect. You need to be away from ALL nicotine products for at least one month before and another month after surgery to minimize the risk.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Smoking significantly increases the risks of breast surgery


Smoking causes constriction of blood vessels. Blood vessels provide blood and nutrition to the wounds while they heal. A breast lift operation requires many incisions. There is a tremendous amount of healing that must take place for a breast lift operation to heal well.

Smoking greatly interferes with healing. The risks of complications, such as infection, wound healing, poor scarring, opening of wounds, are signficantly increased by smoking.

Every surgeon is different. I personally require that patients quit completely for at least one month before their surgery. This is the only way I can be sure the patients will heal well.

You should discuss this in detail with your surgeon.

John Diaz, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Increased risks from breast lift for smokers?

Hello! Thank you for your question! 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

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Breast Lift for Smokers?


Thank you for the question.

You should be free of any type of nicotine product  for at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to breast lifting surgery.  This holds true for other plastic surgical procedures that involve flaps,  such as facelift thing and tummy tuck surgery.

Nicotine behaves as a vasoconstrictor of blood vessels thereby decreasing blood flow to tissues ( that need to receive blood flow to heal after surgery).  A decrease in this blood flow may result in wound healing problems and/or tissue death.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 681 reviews

Breast lifts in smokers?


I strongly encourage you to quit smoking for 3-4 weeks prior to your procedure.  I agree with several of the other physicians that smoking prior to surgery can lead to devastating outcomes.  In general my patients are off of nicotine products and smoking for at least 3-4 weeks prior to a facelift, abdominoplasty and breast lift.  It is likely safer to have a heart bypass procedure in a smoker than to have an of the above stated procedures in terms of minor complications.

Christian Prada, MD, FACS
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 71 reviews

Smokers and breast lifts


Smokers tend to have the highest complication rate.  I recommend to my patients to stop smoking 4 weeks before and the same amount of time post-op.

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

Breast lift has increased risk for smokers.



There are several ways to do a breast lift, and some techniques we absolutely will not do on smokers in New York City. But even the safest techniques carry increased risk.

Some of our patients feel the best thing I did for them was getting them to stop smoking.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

No smoking


Hi Saggy Girl 46,

As others have answered, smoking comes hand in hand with problems.

You shouldn't be afraid of surgery .. it's the cancer stick that you should fear. There's no better feeling for me to nail it on a breast lift in a patient that has quit. Many use this as motivation so kick it and get going!

Good news and bad news ...

-the good news is that this is a great opportunity to quit smoking.

-the bad news is that if you don't quit, not only should you not get this surgery but you are at risk of developing lung cancer, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, etcetera. In other words, if you get this breast lift that means you quit .. so plastic surgery saved your life.

I've always been very interested in how many plastic surgeons out there do mastopexy on patients that smoke when polled at our national meetings. All I can say is that in the best interest of my patients (and in the interest of self preservation) I don't do this operation on smokers - especially with an implant. It's not like other surgeries where an incision is made, something is fixed up inside then it is closed (in case you had this and then healed up properly). In a breast lift, all of those tissues that you've seen slowly droop are separated and rearranged so that they're perky and tight once again. You need normal blood supply for this to heal and leave tiny lines behind.

This is your wake up call .. answer it!

Best Wishes,


Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Absoulutely there are increased risks with smoking


Any exposure to any tobacco products, to include nicorette gums, etc., can lead to decreased blood flow to the healing tissues leading to potential complications.

The complications put you at higher risk for infection, wound/incision seperation, and loss of tissue to include the nipple.

I 'm sorry to be so direct but it is very important that you be made well aware of the risks. Best of luck with smoking cessation and your surgery.

Dr Edwards

Michael C. Edwards, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 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.