Why are they doing a urine test on the morning of surgery? What all are they checking for?

My doctor told me to quit smoking 2 weeks before, and I did. I have had one cigarette in 14 days. What if nicotine shows up and I really have quit? I read nicotine can stay in your system for 3-4 weeks. Also, Is it going to mess me up if I took some pain pills a few days prior to surgery for a tooth ache?

Doctor Answers 9

Preoperative urine testing

Ask your surgeon and/or nurse what the test is for since everyone has different policies.  In my office I check for pregnancy in women of childbearing age and check smokers for nicotine in the urine.  I ask my smoking patients to stop a month before surgery and to continue to abstain from nicotine for 2 weeks following surgery.


Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 523 reviews

Urine Test

A urine test on the day of the surgery is done in most women to ensure that they are not pregnant. Thus is usually done on women under the age of 50.

Testing on the morning of surgery

Plastic surgeons require a urine pregnancy test on the day of surgery as well as a nicotine test. Consult with your surgeon for more information.

Leo Lapuerta, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

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Pregnancy testing on the day of surgery

Many facilities require urine pregnancy testing on the day of surgery.  Ask your doctor if this is the case.

Urine tests before surgery

Based on your information, it is likely that the urine test is being done to confirm that you've stopped smoking. Even small amounts of nicotine can affect the blood flow to your tissues. Good blood flow is important for healing, especially with certain types of procedures that disrupt the normal patterns of blood flow significantly (breast lifts or reductions, facelifts, tummy tucks). Smoking and nicotine may be less of an issue for breast augmentation, liposuction, or other procedures, although it's always best to stop smoking prior to surgery. Another reason to obtain a urine specimen is to rule out pregnancy. If a patient is pregnant, an elective surgery (like cosmetic surgery) would likely be postponed, to minimize the risks to the pregnancy and the fetus.

Andres Taleisnik, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Urine Testing

We do urine testing for 2 reasons:  1: Pregnancy--if pregnant you can not receive anesthetic drugs or gas.
                                                        2: Nicotine- if present can retard normal wound healing, and cause bad scars

Paul Silverstein, MD
Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon

Cotinine test or pregnancy test

Most likely they are doing a urine pregnancy test eg in is standard prior to surgery however they can also be doing a urine nicotine test called the Cotinine test. 

Urine nicotine testing

Sounds like they are checking for nicotine.  This is a relatively simple test that assures the plastic surgeon that the patient has actually stopped smoking. 

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Nicotine and surgery.

You are not providing enough information to give you a complete answer.

Urine tests the morning of surgery are usually to be sure a female patient is not pregnant.  It can also be performed to test for nicotine in your body.  If you are having an operation like a facelift or breast lift, then it is essential to not have that drug in your system.  It increases the risk of healing problems including gangrene.

I personally do not think two weeks is long enough to rid the body of nicotine.  I tell my patients to avoid all forms of nicotine (smoking, gum or patches) one month before and one month after surgery.  By the way, one cigarette will give you enough nicotine to cause problems.  

You should ask your doctor about taking pain pills before any surgery.  Maybe your toothache is an infection in the mouth that may prohibit you from having surgery for a while.

Robert J. Spies, MD
Paradise Valley Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 80 reviews

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.