Why Smokers and Surgery Don’t Mix


The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout every year in November to encourage smokers to give up cigarettes for good. Not only is smoking the number one cause of cancer, but it also has a harmful effect on a number of systems throughout the body that can make smoking immediately before or after plastic surgery detrimental to your health as well as your results.


The Many Impacts of Smoking

More than just a bad habit, smoking cigarettes has a negative impact on physical health overall. Many of the dangers of smoking become even more pronounced and serious immediately before or after surgery.

• Smoking diminishes cardiovascular function

• Chemicals in cigarette smoke can impede respiratory function during anesthesia

• Postoperative nausea and vomiting see a higher incidence in smokers vs. nonsmokers

• Oxygen uptake, transportation and delivery functions are reduced in smokers

While none of these are conducive to a successful surgery, this last item is perhaps one of the most troubling to cosmetic surgeons in particular.

The temporary decrease in tissue oxygenation brought about by smoking inhibits inflammatory healing

response, a vital part of effective recovery after surgery. Cigarette smoke also inhibits collagen synthesis

and deposition.

Just four weeks after your last cigarette, tissue oxygenation and inflammatory cell response are almost completely reversed. Avoiding cigarettes is recommended for at least twice this long before any surgery in order to prevent potential healing delays and serious complications like necrosis due to


This evidence should prevent a clear case for quitting nicotine products well in advance of surgery and entirely through recovery. The Great American Smokeout is a great day to make that commitment.


Article by
Denver Plastic Surgeon