Smoking and Wound Healing - 5 Important Points

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The association between cigarette smoking and delayed wound healing is well known to cosmetic surgeons, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, thoracic surgeons and general surgeons. The documented effects of the toxic constituents of cigarette smoke arise from nicotine, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. All of these have been shown to have deleterious effects on wound healing and wound repair:

  1. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that reduces nutritional blood flow to the skin, resulting in tissue ischemia and impaired healing of injured tissue
  2. Carbon monoxide diminishes oxygen transport and metabolism in ijjured and healthy tissue
  3. Hydrogen cyanide inhibits the enzyme systems necessary for oxidative metabolism and oxygen transport at the cellular level
  4. Smokers have a higher incidence of unsatisfactory healing after face-lift, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and breast augmentation
  5. Smokers should be advised to stop smoking 3 weeks prior to elective cosmetic surgery or any traumatic injury requiring reconstructive surgery

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Article by
Buffalo General Surgeon