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Will Smoking Cigarettes Slow the Healing Process?

Doctor Answers (12)

Cigarettes and Breast Lift


   I would not perform a full breast lift on a smoker.  The patient should have abstained from smoking for at least 1 week prior to surgery.  If the patient is a pack a day smoker, smoking should be stopped for a month prior to surgery.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 180 reviews

Stop Smoking Before Surgery!!!


The nicotine in tobacco is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes blood vessels to clamp down. This results in decreased blood flow, and decreased oxygen supply, to healing skin and other tissues. This will always have a negative effect on healing, and can be catastrophic for some procedures like breast lifts, breast reductions, facelifts or tummy tucks. Skin can die without sufficient blood flow and oxygen, as can the nipple and areola. It is best if you can stop smoking completely for at least 4 weeks before surgery, and for a few weeks after surgery until you are clearly healing well. Certain devices to stop smoking contain nicotine, so they are also a problem.

Andres Taleisnik, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Smoking and a breast lift


Smoking increases the risk of surgical post-op complications.  I usually  recommend to stop 3-4 weeks before surgery and to stay off cigarettes for 3-4 weeks after as well.  Good luck.

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

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Smoking and Breast Surgery?


Thank you for the question.

The use of nicotine (as in any form)  can lead to devastating complications after surgical procedures. Nicotine is a potent constrictor of blood vessels, preventing the delivery of oxygen etc. to surgical sites  that require good  blood flow to heal. The resulting decreased blood flow leads to potential problems with healing, tissue necrosis, open wounds,  infections…

I would suggest that you stop prior to surgery and try not to start again afterwards.
Best Wishes.

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

Will Smoking Cigarettes Slow the Healing Process?


Smoking cigarettes will not only slow the healing process,but  will cause wound breakdown and even tissue loss especially in cases of breast surgery,and facelift surgery

Even second hand smoke has a deletereous effect

It is therefore most important to quit smoking before surgery ,the longer the better.You should also supplement with antioxidants such as raw fruit and vegetables

Hilton Becker, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Smoking and surgery


Yes, smoking impairs wound healing of both the skin and bone.  I generally advise patients to stop smoking for at least 3 weeks prior to surgery and 3 weeks after surgery.

Nina S. Naidu, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Plastic Surgery and Smoking



Yes, smoking absolutely increases the risk of poor healing and other complications after surgery for many reasons:

  • It robs the skin of oxygen and causes poor healing.
  • It increases the risk of infection in your lungs after anesthesia.
  • It increases the risk of scabs and crusts in your incision.
  • It increases the risk of blood clots in the legs which can be deadly.

Smoking is especially dangerous with tummy tucks, facelifts,breast reductions, and breast lifts.

You can lessen (but not eliminate) the risks by stopping smoking at least 6 to 12 weeks before your surgery.

Good luck and thanks for a very important question.



Stephen M. Lazarus, MD
Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Will Smoking Cigarettes Slow the Healing Process?


Smoking deprives tissues of blood supply and leads to a higher risk of infection and wound healing problems. This includes a higher risk of skin dying or a nipple dying... You do not want those problems!

I require my patients to quit smoking at least 4 weeks prior to a breast lift.

Best wishes,

Michael Vennemeyer, MD

Michael Vennemeyer, MD
Southlake Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Smoking will cause serious wound healing problems in plastic surgery


There is no question that smokers run the risk of wound healing problems.  Smoking is generally recorded as packs per day so a person who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day for 35 years has a 70 year pack history.   At this level you would expect to have severe wound healing problems following any surgical procedure.  In plastic surgery, where a good result is anticipated and expected we what to eliminate the know variables that effect healing.  Smoking can cause serious wound healing problems to undermined tissues.  Smoking has several adverse effects.  Nicotine is absorbed and causes the release of epinephrine.  This chemical causes blood vessels to contract.  Also smoking decrease the quality of oxygen carried by the blood.  So it is a double hit, less blood of poorer quality.  This combination can make areas that may otherwise heal become ischemic and necrotic.  For most plastic surgical procedures we expect our patient to not smoke for 2 - 4 weeks prior to surgery and for 4 weeks after surgery.   

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Will Smoking Cigarettes Slow the Healing Process?


Yes, smoke is very dangerous for the tissue and for the scars. Consult with your surgeon and anesthesiologist.. 

Maria Cristina Picon, MD
Argentina Plastic Surgeon

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.