When to Stop Drinking Alcohol Prior to Surgery?

How many weeks or days do I have to stop drinking before my rhynoplasty?

Doctor Answers 24

When is best to stop alcohol consumption before surgery

The question of alcohol consumption prior to surgery is a common one, and the answer depends on how much a person routinely drinks. For light alcohol consumption (e.g., up to 1 glass of wine a night), patients can continue their usual routine up to the night before surgery, and resume a few days after surgery.
That said, the issue of alcohol and surgery merits a closer look. The goal of rhinoplasty (or any elective, cosmetic procedure for that matter) is a great result in the safest manner possible. The topic of peri-operative alcohol consumption relates the the "safest manner possible" because moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption can impact the overall safety of an operation in a couple of ways.

First, several common anesthetic agents effect the body in a manner similar to alcohol. Patients with regular alcohol use may require larger doses of anesthesia to be effective or the anesthesiologist may select a different anesthetic.

Second, most of the common pain medications (e.g., Lortab, Vicodin, Hycet, Percocet, Lorcet, etc.) contain Tylenol, and Tylenol is broken down by the same internal organ that breaks down alcohol-- the liver. As a result, the combination of alcohol and Tylenol can potentially cause liver damage.

What is the bottom line? Clearly and acurately communicate to your surgeon and your anesthesiologist your usual alcohol consumption so that they can best educate you on the safest manner to proceed. The safest solution is to stop a few days prior and wait to resume until you no longer require frequent pain medication.


Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

When to Stop Drinking Alcohol Prior to Surgery?

This entirely depends upon how much alcohol a person typically consumes. If normal intake involves a glass of wine or beer with dinner, the a few days prior to surgery. The true concern is people who over imbibe and interfere with their liver function which can create issues with blood clotting following surgery. Conservative consumption of alcohol (one serving per day) a few days before and after surgery is not typically an issue. I hope this information is helpful.

Stephen Weber MD, FACS

Weber Facial Plastic Surgery

Stephen Weber, MD, FACS
Denver Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

When to Stop Drinking Alcohol Prior to Surgery?

         One to two weeks of alcohol avoidance around the time of surgery is prudent and reasonable.  Find a plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs hundreds of rhinoplasties each year.  Then look at the plastic surgeon's website before and after photo galleries to get a sense of who can deliver the results.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Alcohol and Rhinoplasty

After performing over 3500 Rhinoplasties I have found that stopping alcohol 5-7 days before and 7 days after is the safest for the day of surgery to minimize blood loss and speed up recovery afterwards.

Eric T. Adler, MD
San Juan Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Alcohol Use Before and After a Rhinoplasty

Every surgeon will have their own set of surgery guidelines for rhinoplasty patients to follow, based on that they feel will be most beneficial. I personally recommend that my patients discontinue drinking alcohol and smoking 2 weeks before surgery. This helps to ensure that your rhinoplasty surgery will be safe, and that you will get the most optimal outcome possible. One of the most important things that you can do is to be honest with your surgeon during your consultation and pre-op appointment regarding your drinking and smoking habits to ensure that your surgery goes smoothly. It's also recommended to abstain from alcohol and smoking for 2 weeks after surgery. Your body will be using it's energy towards healing, and it's best not to expose yourself to anything that could hinder your surgical outcome. 

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

How Long Before Surgery Should One Stop Drinking

The concern that surgeons have is that patients who drink on daily basis may have some degree of liver damage that increases bleeding at the time of surgery. This can cause many complications with a rhinoplasty and other surgical procedures. Excessive alcohol consumption can alos other complications after surgery. For most patients, this is not a concern, but just in case, we usually recommend stopping the consumption of any alcohol 2 weeks before in order to give the liver a chance to recover and reduce any chances for bleeding.

I hope that helps.

Best regards.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Be honest with your surgeon regarding your alcohol consumption prior to any treatment

Light alcohol consumption in the run up to surgery acceptable however, in the week prior I suggest that patients completely abstain. During your consultation and pre-op you should be honest with your surgeon regarding both drug and alcohol consumption as this can interfere with both healing time and at times, anaesthetic. 

When to Stop Drinking Alcohol Before Surgery

A glass of wine or a single beer the night before surgery is OK. If one is drinking more than that on a regular basis, tapering down to one drink in the two weeks before surgery is advised.
Be frank with your surgeon about your alcohol consumption so he/she can advise you best to avoid drug interactions or difficulties with anesthetics.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Alcohol in small amounts isn't a big deal before surgery

Alcohol in small amounts isn't a big deal before surgery. I don't mind if a patient as a glass of wine or beer the night before surgery, though it's not ideal if your surgery is later in the day. Alcohol can make you more hungry and lower your blood sugar.

If you drink heavily then it can be a different issue. You can go through withdrawal if you stop, so it is advised to stop well ahead of surgery so this doesn't occur in the peri-operative period. Some patients require benzodiazepines to control withdrawal around surgery. Let your surgeon know if you are a heavy alcohol consumer.  It is wise to stop well ahead of time to manage withdrawal and also to decrease risks of bleeding, which is common in heavy drinkers.

Alcohol intake around rhinoplasty

Imbibing a glass of wine or a pint of beer is fine right up to the night before surgery.  Over indulgence should be avoided in the week before and probably for 6 weeks after surgery (all the time really).  I recommend 6 weeks because you may lose coordination, fall and hit your nose, etc.  The drinking itself is probably not going to cause any problems after about 2 weeks.  Definitely don't drink while you are on post-operative medications as there can be interactions.  If you are a heavy drinker, make sure to discuss this with your surgeon ahead of time as there are medical issues that may need to be taken into account.  All the best!

Sirius K. Yoo, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 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.