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 (17)

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
5.0 out of 5 stars 134 reviews

No Smoking Before and After Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift

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.

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. During those four weeks, however, the use of smoking cessation aids, such as the nicotine patch, zyban, and chantix, are useful for those who find it hard to quit "cold turkey".

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

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 7 reviews

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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 38 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
1.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 680 reviews

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 32 reviews

Smoking...does it make a difference.


The short answer: yes, it makes a difference.

Studies show that even 2-3 cigarettes a day can make the risks of a major complication in wound healing (like dead skin) significantly higher.

It's not worth the risk.  Quit now.

Thomas Fiala, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

A Single Cigarette Can Affect Wound Healing


It is possible for a single cigarette smoked after to surgery to have very deleterious effects on the healing process.  This is especially true with tummy tucks, breast reductions, and face lifts.  In each of these procedures, there is an significant interruption of the normal blood supply and a cigarette can cause the collateral vessels which are now nourishing the tissues to go into spasm and result in varying areas of necrosis.

John Whitt, MD
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Smoking is a huge problem with healing, but be honest with your surgeon


I completely agree with the other comments about how bad smoking is.  However, there are surgical techniques that can be used to reduce the harm done by smoking, although they sometimes result in a reduction in the amount of improvement from the surgery.

And smoking is the worst addiction there is, and the hardest to quit.

So, if you do smoke, be sure to tell your surgeon before surgery, and have a frank discussion about this.  There may be things that can be done in surgery to reduce the risk.

James Nachbar, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 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.