Smoking Only 2-3 a Day, Can It Affect Your Healing Process So Bad?

Im going for a breast lift and tummy tuck and fix of inverted nipples.... I'll be going the 13th of July. I'm a social smoker, I'm drinking diet pills and then instead of eating Ill smoke.... ok I know its not healty, but by smoking lets say 10 per week, will it make such a big difference??

Doctor Answers 20

Avoid smoking for at least 2 weeks before plastic surgery

Smoking can have disastrous effects on wound healing, both at your breasts and abdomen. You should refrain from all smoking (and nicotine) for at least 2 weeks, preferably longer, to minimize your wound healing complications. You should also stop your diet pills for about two weeks before surgery as well.

Discuss this in greater detail with your plastic surgeon prior to surgery.

Best wishes,


Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
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Smoking and plastic surgery

I advise all patients to discontinue smoking prior to surgery.  That said, smoking is especially dangerous and should be avoided for at least two weeks for patients undergoing tummy tuck and breast lift (mastopexy). Both of these procedures can compromise blood flow to the operative area following surgery.  Smoking causes vasoconstriction which could further compromise blood flow to these areas.  The dangers are real and patients risk skin loss and infection when they continue to smoke prior to these procedures.  Even a few cigarettes per day can affect healing.  Diet pills should also be discontinued as they may increase your heart rate prior to and during surgery.

Christopher J. Morea, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 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. 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 29 reviews

Smoking only 2-3/day. Can it affect your healing process so bad?

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 and at least 6 weeks after any surgical procedure. The longer, the better. 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 13 reviews

No Smoking Before and After Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift

Cigarette smoke can compromise a patient's recovery because it makes the body weaker against infection and delays wound healing.

I recommend that patients stop smoking four weeks prior to their aesthetic surgery. This is particularly critical with respect to procedures that involve manipulating the blood flow to tissues, such as a tummy tuck and breast lift. I feel so strongly about this that I recommend you do not proceed with the above surgeries if you can't stop smoking for the recommended four weeks. It's just not worth it.  

Smoking with tummy tuck and breast lift. Bad Idea.

As you can imagine, smoking is bad for breast lifts and tummy tucks, (and surgery in general). The operations you are decribing put tension across the wound. If you are smoking on top of that most would say that you have a significantly higher rate of wound complications. When one takes a drag on a cigarette, the chemicals cause vasoconstriction. Wound healing is all about getting blood flow and oxygen to the tissue. I believe that you will find that each doctor may have a different opinion as to how long you need to be off cigarettes. Some will test for nicotine in the system. Best to talk with a board certified plastic surgeon. Also best to quit smoking, (for a variety of other health reasons as well).

Jeffrey Roth, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Social Smoking is Bad for Surgery

Most experts unanimously agree that smoking increases the rate of  breast augmentation surgical complications significantly. The more you smoke the more likely you will have problems starting with second hand smoke or just a few cigarettes per day. Just about all plastic surgeons strongly recommend  women  to stop smoking and all nicotine products well in advance of breast augmentation with breast implants.  Many plastic surgeons recommend stopping all tobacco products several months prior to surgery.A scientific article in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that, among all forms of surgery, quitting smoking eight weeks prior was never associated with an increased risk of complications.

Here is the reason why: the nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products (including Nicorette gum, patches, etc) is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it makes the Smoking is a significant multiplier of many potential complications following surgery and breast augmentation with implants are no exception. Nicotine from smoking causes blood vessels to vasoconstrict ( tighten up). Over time, these constricted arteries and capillaries deliver less blood to the breast tissue which is needed for normal healing. Smokers therefore have an increased incidence of higher likelihood of complications such as infection, and in particular capsular contracture (hardening and distortion of the implants). General complications of surgery such as blood clots, anesthetic problems such as pneumonia are also increased. For a tummy tuck there is increased likelihood of both an infection and loss of skin because of inadequate circulation.

In young patients you will probably statistically avoid these complications, why tempt fate by increasing your odds that something bad will happen. .On a long term basis, smoking also causes accelerated aging of the skin and loss of elasticity. Hopefully these reasons will help give you the will power and courage to stop smoking.


Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Smoking may increase surgical complications

If you were my patient, I would insist that you completely stop smoking prior to either tummy tuck or breast lift surgery.  The longer you stay away from cigarettes before surgery, the better off you will be.  The effect of smoking on microcirculation is substantial in cases that rely on skin flap survival such as these.  Complications including infection, delayed healing, and even loss of tissue with severe scarring are more likely in smokers. I would also advise that you avoid cigarettes after surgery until your wounds are fully healed.  

Pamela B. Rosen, MD
Coral Springs Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Preventing complications prior to surgery

I instruct my patients to refrain from smoking about 1 month prior to proceeding with surgery to prevent complications intra-operatively and post-operatively. Nicotin use may affect the healing process and may cause wound healing issues, such as necrosis (tissue death). You want to be in the best condition before your surgery to aid in healing. Diet pills and other herbal supplements may cause blood thinning and should be discontinued two weeks prior to surgery.

Stop smoking temporarily - it reduces the risk

It depends on your type of breast lift.  For a vertical lift technique, smoking is not as dangerous as it is for the inverted-T technique.  However, all abdominoplasties depend on a good blood supply for healing.  The concern is that nicotine causes the little blood vessels to tighten up, compromising circulation.  This could lead to tissue loss along the skin edge, delayed healing, and not as nice a scar.  Also the anesthetist will not want you taking diet pills because of their possible effect on anesthesia.  You are such a light smoker that it should not be hard for you to hold off on smoking for two weeks before and two weeks after surgery.  This places the odds in your favor of not having a complication.  I still operate on smokers, but I inform them of this risk.  They are still happy, even the ones with delayed healing, but sometimes they need a scar revision later on and this is best avoided if at all possible.  Smoking is a difficult thing to stop, so I understand it may not be possible or you may cheat a few times.  The less the better.  I hope your surgeon performs vertical lifts, because this is the preferred breast lift technique - less scarring, better shape.

Eric Swanson, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 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.