How long prior to abdominoplasty should you quit nicotine?

Most doctors say 6 weeks to be safe. But would quiting 1 week before surgery pose any serious risks? Wouldn't the nicotine be completely out of my system in 1 week's time?

Doctor Answers 15

Quit Nicotine

I think you should be very realistic concerning your smoking.  Smoking cessation is a very serious challenge for most patients and it is tough to go it alone.  I believe you should contact your family doctor to see what aids may be in order for you.  There are patches, chewing gum, and oral medications you can take to make nicotine withdrawal a little easier. A period of abstention for one week will not make any real difference and the risks and complications related to smoking are serious.  It is not just the nicotine. There is also carbon monoxide and many other toxic substances that can be harmful to you.  I tell my patients that they should ideally quit for three months, about six weeks before the operation, and not return to it until six weeks after.

Nicotine and tummy tuck

I require 3 weeks for the "occasional weekend smoker" and 6 weeks for the regular pack a day range smoker. It takes a few weeks for stored nicotine to be cleared from the body and it is stored in your fat. If you try to take short cuts, the blood vessels in that fat will be in a state of spasm from the remaining nicotine which slows the flow of blood. If blood slows enough it can clot and the circulation to that area stops completely and those tissues die like leaves on a branch that's been snapped. Follow your doctors advise and understand that everyone loses if you break the rules.

Gregory J. Stagnone, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Quitting smoking before a tummy tuck

Thank you for the question. Most doctors would advise you to stop smoking at least 4 weeks prior and after a procedure. The nicotine may complicate your recovery process since it constricts blood vessels and may weaken the blood supply to the healing areas. Therefore, quitting smoking 6 weeks prior to surgery is strongly advisable. Please alert your plastic surgeon to your smoking habits. Best of luck! Dr. Michael Omidi.  An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon would be the best way to assess your needs and obtain a reliable medical advice.

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

Tummy Tuck and Smoking

You will find different surgeons have different guidelines. For my patients I require that they quit at minimum 4 weeks before surgery and 4 weeks after surgery. Smoking can cause complications with healing, and 1 week is not enough, 4 minimum. Good luck.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty/Liposuction/Vaser High Definition Procedures/Tummy Tuck Revision

I appreciate your question. I recommend my patients stop smoking 8 weeks prior to surgery as well as 8 weeks after surgery as smoking (nicotine of any kind) can gravely affect wound healing and cause a whole host of other problems. The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam. Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative plastic surgery. Best of luck! Dr. Schwartz Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Director-Beverly Hills Breast and Body Institute #RealSelf100Surgeon

One month smoke free (minimum) before abdominoplasty, facelift, or mastopexy

believe me you don't want to do anything that might lead to a disastrous  wound healing problem after your surgery. if you haven't stopped smoking 100% for at least a month, i recommend you postpone surgery until you can . 

Bruce K. Barach, MD
Schenectady Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

At least one month

You should be off all nicotine (gum, cigarettes, etc) at least one month before any surgery.Hope this helps.Leland Deane MD FACSNYC, Babylon, Garden City

Leland Deane, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Quit smoking

The only patients of mine who have had problems after abdominoplasty with healing have been smokers. If you stop smoking 1 week before, I am sure you will go back right after. Stop now. 

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tummy tuck and smoking

Do not do the surgery if you have only quit 1 week ago. You are at significant risk of wounds not healing or skin dying. Nicotine causes vasospasm which limits blood supply. The minimum time I recommend is 6 weeks to stop smoking,

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Smoking and plastic surgery

Aside from the general health risks of smoking, it is of particular concern surrounding plastic surgery procedures.  Operations with long incisions, such as an abdominoplasty, have significant wound healing requirements post-operatively.  In order for the body to properly orchestrate healing these incisions, there must be adequate blood flow in the skin edges.  To ensure a smooth post-operative course and an excellent cosmetic result, the importance of adequate blood flow in the skin cannot be stressed enough.  Not enough blood flow will increase the risk of wound healing complications, possibly leading to incisions opening, infections occurring, prolonged need for bandages, and poor scarring.  That is why quitting smoking for at least 4-6 weeks pre-operatively and post-operatively is so important, as SMOKING COMPROMISES BLOOD FLOW IN THE SKIN.  It does this by tightening the tiny vessels that course through the skin.  This is well studied.  4-6 weeks of quitting is the  necessary minimum to give the body enough time to re-equilibrate and open the diameter of these small blood vessels (if you're a regular smoker then these vessels are now very tight at baseline, and it takes time for this to change).  You (and your plastic surgeon) do not want to have wound healing complications post-operatively, especially if  they could have been avoided by quitting smoking for a long enough amount of time.  In order to get a qualified, expert opinion on your surgical options and expectations visit a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Best of luck,
Keith M. Blechman, MD
New York, NY    

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.