Smoking Before Plastic Surgery?

I had a consultation today for a Breast Augmentation and a Tummy Tuck. The doctor said that I would need to stop smoking 6 weeks before surgery. Is that true? I've researched all over the Internet and people are saying 2, 3, maybe 4 weeks. I'm kind of confused and don't know what is right.

Doctor Answers (8)

Smoking before surgery


2 weeks is probably enough time but most doctors allow a bit more time to allow the patient to commit to their non-smoking regimen.

The nicotine and toxins are out of the system fairly quickly, but the desire to have a cigarette may not be. Therefore a buffer zone is a good policy.

Although there are studies for and against this concept, I believe chronic smokers, even patients who have quit recently, still have an increased incidence of complications.

Smoking causes greatly increased complication rates, decreased ability to resist infections, greater incidence of anesthetic complications such as pneumonia because the cilia in the tracheobronchial tree are poisoned by cigarettes. Cigarettes have nicotine in them, a powerful vasoconstrictor. This causes shrinking of blood vessels, reduced blood supply, and reduced wound healing.

Patients who smoke shortly after facelift surgery or tummy tuck surgery can have disastrous results.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Absolutely the longer the better....


Hi there-

The critical thing for you to understand is that your surgeon recommended this time period to you not because he or she did not want to operate on you, but because they are concerned for your safety, and they want to maximize the probability that you will achieve the great outcome and smooth recovery you want.

The longer you go without nicotine, the better the chances will be that you will indeed get this desired smooth recovery free from complications and with a beautiful outcome at the end.

There is no question that cessation of smoking for a few weeks before surgery would lower your risks, but there should also be no question that if you were to abstain for a longer period the risk would be even lower.

Your surgeon was correct in his/her recommendation.

Armando Soto, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Listen to your surgeon


I would echo Dr. Rand's thoughts. There is no doubt that nicotine of any kind will inhibit your body's ability to heal, in particular a procedure such as a tummy tuck. You should take your doc's advice very seriously-- in may cases, once patients are forced to quit nicotine in order to have a procedure they really want, after the procedure they see no reason to restart the smoking. In other words, they use it as a powerful motivator to quit smoking for good, which does wonders for their health.

In summary: listen to your surgeon, don't use nicotine products of any kind, and use this as a chance to get off of the nicotine forever!

Good luck,

Dr. S

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

The longer the better...


Make a commitment to yourself to have the best possible outcome possible and don't skimp. These surgeries are a big financial and emotional investment. If you can't stop smoking, don't have surgery. If you try and cheat, please don't blame your surgeon for any complications because he/she is trying to protect you. We all take problems after surgery very personally and don't want anything bad to happen to anyone! I say 4 weeks minimum for a tummy tuck and if I find that they are cheating - I cancel surgery. It's THAT IMPORTANT!

Robert S. Houser, DO
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

At least 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after away from all nicotine


Your doctor is only trying to help you avoid a disastrous complication from your tummy tuck (not the augmentation). When you are exposed to nicotine in any form (cigarettes, gums, patches, second hand smoke) your skin circulation is compromised such that doing a tummy tuck, beast lift or facelift can result is serious complications.

I am not going to candy coat the problem here because I want you to clearly understand what can happen if you don't comply with this. The skin will die, turn black, slough off, smell horrible and potentially get infected. It will take many months to heal this open wound because the tummy tuck is closed under tension and the scar can never be revised and the result will look horrible.

So please respect your doctor's request - it is for your own good and do not short change it or cheat on it!

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

2 Weeks Before, 2 Weeks After in my practice.


Thank you for your question! I get this quite a bit from smokers. Personally, I am "thrilled" about operations on patients who DO NOT SMOKE. The risks depend on other health and the specific procedure. In my practice I advise to not smoke two (2) weeks prior and two (2) weeks post-operation. I recommend quitting to all of my patients and provide assist with Chantix, etc. or refer to a professional who specializes in quitting smoking.

Frank L. Stile, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Smoking and Plastic Surgery


Most experts unanimously agree that smoking increases the rate of  breast augmentation surgical complications significantly. 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

Better safe than sorry


The by products of tobacco smoke undoubtedly cause a decrease in blodd flow in smaller blood vessels that are carrying oxygen, nutrients and antibiotics to your healing tissues. Although I have my patients stop smoking or have any exposure to any tobacco products for two weeks before most surgeies, I would be happier if they stopped earlier or quit altogether. You simply increase your risks of complications by continuing to smoke around the time of 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.