How Long Should You Stop Smoking Before Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 20

Two weeks before and two weeks after of nonsmoking is recommended, but not always possible.

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A common recommendation is no smoking one month before and then one month after surgery.  However, I shorten this to two weeks for my patients because I know that it is a very difficult thing to quit and I'd rather them concentrate on no smoking for two weeks before and after rather than cheating during a longer period.  Some surgeons are very strict and won't even operate on patients who smoke.  I do not fell this way.  I tell my patients that their risk of delayed wound healing is increased if they smoke.  Tummy tucks are such an effective procedure that even if a patient has a wound that takes a few months to heal and leaves more scar tissue, they are still glad they did it.  I discuss this on my website (link is attached).  During surgery, I keep as much vascular supply to the skin flap as possible, particularly in smokers.  Remember, nicotine causes the little blood vessels to constrict, so using nicotine gum is not a good option.

Of course, it would be great if you could use this surgery as a new start on a healthier lifestyle and plan on quitting smoking at the same time.  You may find your confidence level is higher after the tummy tuck.

Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Stop Smoking before a Tummy Tuck

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I would stop the smoking, nicotine gum, and any nicotine patches for AT LEAST 4 weeks prior to surgery.  The nicotine will constrict blood vessels and may cause the blood supply to be weakend to the healing areas which can increase the wound complication rate.  It is just not worth taking a chance with elective surgery.  This advice is my recommendation prior to tummy tucks, facelifts, breast lifts and reductions, arm lifts, thigh lifts, and body lifts.

How long to stop smoking before tummy tuck?

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Smoking brings a significant risk of cancer, stroke, heat attack, etc. From a Plastic Surgery standpoint it is a vasoconstrictor. Wound healing is all about getting oxygen and needed entities to the wound. It is well known that patient who smoke have a tremendous increase in their rate of serious complications, (infections, wounds falling apart, etc.). Nicotine is the main vasoconstrictor, so getting a patch or lozenge of nicotine won't help the vasoconstriction. Best to be off the tobacco/nicotine entirely before surgery. Please be honest with your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Together you can make a plan to quit and proceed with surgery. The amount of time between quitting and surgery will depend on the Plastic Surgeon and the procedure.

Jeffrey J. Roth, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

How Long Should You Stop Smoking Before Tummy Tuck?

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Avoid nicotine nicotine in all its "modalities' of delivery 6 weeks prior to surgery. It is a powerful constrictor of blood vessels,  decreasing blood flow to the “flaps” used during these procedures. This decreased blood flow could potentially lead to wound healing problems and/or tissue necrosis. Best advice: avoid nicotine completely or postpone surgery.
Best wishes. 

At least 4 weeks before surgery

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Smoking is very detrimental to the recovery process following surgery. It compromises your immune system making your body less effective in fighting infection. It also hinders circulation making the recovery process slower. I usually recommend my patients stop smoking about four weeks before surgery.  Please ask your surgeon for their advice. 

How long should you stop smoking before tummy tuck?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! The issue with nicotine is that it also acts as a vasoconstrictor, clamping down of blood vessels. Blood supply is always of great concern during any surgical procedure, but especially in such a procedure as a tummy tuck where the viability of the belly button and skin flaps are obviously important. Since the vascularity to the area is already tenuous with the dissection of the abdominal tissue as well as cutting around the belly button, maximizing blood flow to the tissue is critical.

Typically, we recommend at least 6 weeks of smoking cessation prior to and at least 6 weeks after any surgical procedure. The longer, the better. Nicotine always increases the risk for infection, skin flap necrosis, and wound complications, as well as other health consequences. There is an increase pulmonary risk with the anesthesia and postop lung infections. The most devastating consequence of infection, especially since the tissue is tightened, is increased. This along with wound healing and scarring. I would discuss this with your surgeon prior to your procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Smoking and Abdominoplasty

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The scientific data is clear that smoking is quite risky in patients having a tummy tuck.  Most plastic surgeons, including myself, require that you have no exposure to any tobacco/nicotine containing products for 4 weeks prior to and an additional 4 weeks after having the surgery.  Compromised normal blood flow in an abdominoplasty patient (via nicotine products along with thousands of other harmful chemicals in cigarettes) can at times lead to disastrous complications and significant/permanent scarring and pain.  You are having the surgery to improve your looks, so don't set yourself up to potentially make your tummy look worse!  Best wishes!

Brian Howard, MD (retired)
Alpharetta Plastic Surgeon

Tummy Tuck

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Smoking has a significant effect on bloodflow.  It is particularly important with surgery such as tummy tucks because the abdominal skin flap needs the blood supply to effectively heal the abdominal flap incision.  I tend to be very cautious in smokers when I do these procedures.  I prefer patients to stop smoking for one month and to be off all aids such as nicotine gum (the gum puts some of the compromising substances into your system that effects blood supply.)  In addition, I am also a bit more conservative in the "tuck" portion of the procedure to avoid too much ension on the tummy skin as I have noticied that even smokers who quit for one month preop have a slower healing of the incision skin edge.  I hope this information is helpful for you.

Ronald H. Stefani Jr, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Be Tobacco Free Before Surgery

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The use of tobacco products is extremely detrimental to the surgical process. Not only can tobacco use impair ones ability to heal incisions, but it places patients at much higher risk for other peri-operative complications such as atelectasis, pneumonia and deep venous thrombosis. It is essential that patients be COMPLETELY off all tobacco products, including nicotine gums and patches, for an absolute minimum of six weeks prior to surgery...and for as long as is required to be completely healed after surgery.

Kevin Brenner, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Smoking and tummytuck

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I ask my patients to be nicotine free for at least 3 months prior to a tummy tuck procedure.

This also applies to facelifts, breast reductions and breast lifts.  The effects of smoking a single cigarette will last 8-10 hours on the microcirculation.  These are the tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen to the tissues.  A lack of oxygen can cause tissue necrosis (death of tissue).

Daniel H. Kane, MD
Miami 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.