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Tummy Tuck Recovery While Being a Smoker, is This Okay?

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Tummy tuck recovery while being a smoker, is this okay?

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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 tummy tuck where the viability of the skin/tissue, abdominal wall repair, and belly button 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, poor scarring, and wound complications, as well as other health consequences including blood clots. The anesthesia risk is greater with general anesthesia as well as pulmonary issues/lung infections postoperatively. I would discuss this with your surgeon prior to your procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Quit smoking before surgery

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I strongly advise my patients who are smokers to quit smoking for at least 6 weeks before and after a tummy tuck. Tobacco smoke interferes with wound healing and gives you a much higher chance of having a wound healing complication.  Why take the chance?  It's best to be honest with your plastic surgeon and do everything you can to maximize your chance of having a great result!

James Knoetgen, III, MD
Fresno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Nicotine Exposure of Any Kind is Dangerous with Tummy Tuck

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Hi there-

It is very important, if you value your safety and the improvement in your body that you will get through a well-done tummy tuck, that you be completely nicotine free for at least 3-4 weeks before surgery and the same time period after.

If you do not abstain from all nicotine exposure for this time period, your risks of not looking your best, or worse, having a serious complication with un-planned medical care and expenses are dramatically increased.

The right thing to do is usually easier to understand than it is to do. But it's still the right thing. 

Armando Soto, MD, FACS
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

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Tummy Tuck and Smokers!

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As with any surgery, especially if you are having a general anesthesia, smoking is not recommended. People who smoke have higher risk of complications after general anesthesia.

Smoking before and after a tummy tuck can definitely hinder your recovery. First of all, trying to cough after surgery is very difficult, and painful. If you have any type of cough following tummy tuck surgery the chances of damaging the repair is higher.

Secondly the blood supply to the incision is compromised in a smoker. The incision does not get significant oxygenated blood to aid in the healing process. The patient may experience breakdown of the incision. This can extend to loss of tissue and skin around the incision (gangrene) . The recovery period is extended and the patient may need to have additional surgery to repair the breakdown.

It is recommend that a patient try to stop smoking at least one month prior to surgery, and to not start again until healing is complete.

Stewart Wang, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Smoking is always dangerous especially around surgeries.

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Smoking leads to decreased blood flow to the skin, During a tummy tucky your excess skin is cut away and the remaining skin edges are sutured together. The belly button is released and reattached through a new opening in the skin flap that is pulled down. Both the belly button and the skin that is pulled down to create a tight tummy are at risk to have poor blood flow when you are a smoker. The belly button can actually necrose and the wounds can have very delayed healing. Quit smoking at least 3 months before any surgery and also for your general health.

Laurie Casas, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Smoking and a tummy tuck

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Active smoking when undergoing a tummy tuck could be disastrous - resulting in loss (necrosis) of an extensive amount of tissue of the abdomen as well as other significant medical problems. This is the result of the nicotine causing narrowing of the blood vessels which means less blood supply and less oxygen and nutrition to the tissues.

Most plastic surgeons will require that you stop smoking for a period of time before and after surgery. The most common periods of time are 3 - 6 weeks both before and after tummy tuck surgery.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Tummy tuck and smoking don't mix

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Thank you for your question. Many plastic surgeons, including me, will not perform a tummy tuck on someone while they are still smoking. It is too dangerous. The skin and fat on your tummy could die and turn black.  It's not worth the risk for an elective cosmetic procedure.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Healing and Smoking do not mix

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Smoking cigarettes is extremely detrimental to your health and will definetly shorten your lifespan.  You are inhaling into your lungs the waste products of leaves that contain compounds that will cause cancer.  In addition the chemical compounds (ie nicotine) cause permanent damage to the small and moderate size blood vessels in your body.  That is why cigarette smokers have such a high rate of heart attacks, the blood vessesl that keep the heart alive are damaged.  Do not have a tummy tuck if you are a smoker, you will not heal!!!!

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Tummy Tuck + Nicotine Intake = Healing Disaster

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Nicotine intake (be it first hand or second hand smoke, or nicotine gum or patches) results in prolonged narrowing of the blood vessels in the skin and a much higher risk of skin death and wound disruption. This is especially the case with Tummy Tuck and Facelift surgery.  If you cannot stop takng in Nicotine, please do not have these procedures. You will be sorry you did. 

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

Smoking and tummy tuck

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I will not do a full tummy tuck on a smoker unless they quit smoking three weeks before and three weeks after to prevent wound healing complications.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 68 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.