Tummy tuck surgery scheduled for tomorrow. I smoked 3 cigarettes 3 days ago. Will nicotine show in my blood work or urine?

Doctor Answers 6

Smoking prior to tummy tuck

Let your surgeon know that you smoked recently and how much.  Let him or her make an informed decision about whether or not it is a good idea to proceed with surgery at this time.  The risks from smoking are real.  It can lead to poor wound healing and skin loss, even in small amounts.  Several years ago I had a patient that was smoking marijuana on occasion.  She didn't let me know, and she developed skin loss after surgery necessitating a few weeks of wound care and a second procedure to close the wound. Do everyone a favor, especially yourself, and be honest and upfront with your surgeon and your surgical team. 

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Nicotine and tummy tuck

If you smoked, you shouldn't need a test to determine if you have smoked or not.  Let your doctor know and he/she will make a decision on performing your surgery.  Many doctors will not perform the surgery due to increased risks.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Tummy tuck scheduled and I smoked 3 cigarettes.

Yes, nicotine will show in your blood 
work and urine at least upto 72 hrs. We routinely screen our patients preoperaively for things such as a tummy tuck and will postpone surgery. This is not as a penalty to the patient but we really want to assure your best possible outcome. Smoking drastically increased your risks of wound healing complications and can make for a very hard recovery and poor aesthetic result. Be honest with you plastic surgeon. We have you safety in mind first and foremost. 

Smoking affects your skin healing for weeks

Hi Toya,

Thank you for this question.  Most smoking tests detect short-lasting (48 hour) and long-lasting (7 day) byproducts of smoking, so it should show up on your test. More importantly, one cigarette can cause reduced blood flow to your skin for up to eight hours, so it doesn't take many of them to dramatically affect your healing.

Researchers at University of Toronto found that it takes 2 weeks for your skin to return to normal flow after any smoking at all. Having an operation during that time of poor blood flow is asking for complications, and stopping is the single best thing you can do to improve your chances of having a good outcome.  You should let your surgeon know and reschedule for later, when you have the best chances of surgery without a complication. 

All the best,

Hakim Said, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review


Yes and it may cause a poor outcome due to wound healing. Your doctor should make the final call. Better to to delay surgery if a question. Good  Luck!

Gregory T. Lynam, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

Smoking before tummy tuck

Nicotine will persist in your blood stream for days to weeks.  Regardless of whether or not it shows up in a test, it is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that you relay this to your primary surgeon so that he or she can make the appropriate decision on whether or not to proceed.  Smoking has dramatic effects on the microvasculature that can persist for weeks.  These effects have serious implications for wound healing for patients undergoing tummy tuck, breast reduction/lift, or facelift.  I will not perform these operations on patients who have smoked within 4 weeks of their surgery.  This is not to punish them.  To the contrary, this is to protect them from a poor result.  We are on the same team!  You are taking on the physical and financial cost of a big operation.  You should set yourself up for the best chance of success rather than subject yourself to unnecessary risk that may leave you with a poor result. 

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.