Smoking After Tummy Tuck?

When can I start smoking again?  its been 2 weeks since I had Tummy Tuck surgery and I feel just fine. No pain at all.

Doctor Answers 12

Smoking after a Tummy Tuck is not in your best interests

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Hi there-

Even though it sounds like you have done well for the first two weeks since your tummy tuck, I would not want you to believe that you are "out of the woods" with regards to the risks posed to your recovery and outcome by nicotine.

Please note that I have phrased the above very deliberately, because it is the nicotine, and not the smoke that is dangerous to you in this situation. Nicotine causes the small blood vessels throughout your body to constrict, limiting blood flow, and compromising healing- and for this reason, gums and patches are just as dangerous to your result and healing as a cigarette is.

Also, human wounds heal in exponential fashion for the first 6 weeks, so in the big scheme of things, you are really not very far along in the process. Any smoking at all might cause compromise of your healing, which could result in your needing to pack bandages in the wound for months, or worse, it could cause the death (necrosis) of some of the skin near the incision, which might take even longer to heal and leave you with a scar you will wish you could have prevented. Indeed, these risks are the reason many plastic surgeons won't consider doing a tummy tuck on a smoker.

While I'm glad that you have done well so far, I recommend you put any thoughts of cigarettes out of your mind for at least another few weeks. You've made a big investment in your body and appearance, and I know you wouldn't want to jeopardize that investment for the short term pleasure of the cigarette.

Hang in there, be strong, and DON'T SMOKE!

Smoking after tummy tuck

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Smoking is very bad! Hasn't your doctor told you that? You should use this opportunity to quit for good. With regard to wound healing, nicotine constricts blood vessels which need to stay wide open if your wound is going to heal properly. At the very least, I tell my smoking patients (after berating them to stop smoking) that they must wait 4 weeks to resume smoking. The last thing you need is for your wound not to heal properly because you started smoking too soon following surgery.

Elan B. Singer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

If you are healing well now, you can probably resume but ask your doctor

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Avoidance of all nicotine products one month before and one month after surgery is what I recommend. You should certainly follow your doctor's restrictions specifically but I would imagine that if you had no evidence of tissue death or healing problems at 2 weeks after surgery, you could probably resume smoking without harm. But remember that it would be better for your surgical result and your overall health to stop for good now that you have temporarily quit!!

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Smoking 2 weeks after tummy tuck will not hurt your surgery.

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I don't have to tell you that smoking is bad for you. Sometimes I think the best thing I do with cosmetic surgery is getting patients to stop smoking.

In New York, we don't do a tummy tuck unless a patient has stopped smoking for a month. But after 2 weeks, I cannot honestly say that smoking will damage your result.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

I would wait another two weeks, at least

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I did have a patient who was healing fine at 10 days, then began smoking and ended up with poor healing and an open wound at the midline which, then has to heal in secondarily.  Abdominoplasty is a big surgery and you want the best results possible.

Smoking after a Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for your question. It is not a good idea to smoke while you are recovering. Smoking may slow down the recovery process and any wound healing. Nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict which means they decrease in their size and blood flow thorough them drops off. Nicotine can also make the blood clot more easily which can further clog small blood vessels and capillaries. These effects are extremely serious because they decrease the blood supply to the tissues, can result in wounds not healing, and can result in some devastating complications. It is best to quit smoking while you are recovering. Best of luck!Dhaval M. Patel Double board certified Plastic surgeon Hoffman Estates Barrington Oakbrook Chicago

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Smoking after tummy tuck

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Why start up again?  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

Smoking and surgery

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Here are the major points of smoking Tobacco or Marijuana before or after surgery:
1. There is nicotine in tobacco, but not in marijuana. However, most joints are rolled with marijuana and tobacco combination. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that decreases blood flow to the tissues. This is the major problems that can cause a very bad outcome in some surgeries. In a breast augmentation, there is not a lot of risk as there are not a lot of incisions which decrease blood flow to the tissues. In a breast lift or tummy tuck, on the other hand, there is much longer and more involved incisions. The decrease in blood flow to the tissues in combination with the decrease in blood flow from the nicotine can cause tissue to die. This can cause part of the breast or nipple, or in the case of a tummy tuck, part of the belly tissue to die, resulting in a very bad outcome. This is especially bad in breast reductions or face lifts. In a rhinoplasty the tip of the nose and the columella, the area between the tip and the lip, is at risk. Your skin and tissue can turn black and fall off if this happens. Marijuana without tobacco does not cause this problem, or marijuana in an edible fashion. Vaporizers do not decrease the amount of nicotine in tobacco, only decrease the smoke. Hookah also does not decrease nicotine.
2. There is carbon monoxide in both tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke. Carbon monoxide decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin in the blood. This is different from the vasoconstrictor effect, but has the same result of having the risk of tissue death in conjunction with surgeries that decrease the blood flow to tissues such as breast lifts and tummy tucks, as opposed to an augmentation alone that does not decrease blood flow to as great of an extent. Again, edible forms of marijuana do not have smoke, and thus carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. Coughing. Both tobacco and marijuana smoke disrupt the lining of the lungs and bronchi and can lead to coughing episodes. Coughing episodes can lead to internal bleeding after surgery that can lead to hematomas and complications, and again a bad outcome. Again, edible forms of marijuana does not have this effect.
4. Anesthesia effects. Marijuana can have drug interactions with certain anesthetic drugs. Thus it is important to tell your anesthesiologist about your marijuana use.
In conclusion, Smoking, whether it be tobacco or marijuana, is detrimental to your surgery outcome. Edible marijuana is much less so, but be honest about your use with your surgeon and anesthesiologist so that you can have the best outcome. In general, you should quite smoking many weeks, ideally 6 weeks before surgery, and not smoke for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Smoking after 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

No smoking after Tummy Tuck

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I would not smoke even if you are two weeks post surgery. The scars are still immature. If you want them to heal nicely I would wait at least 4-6 weeks post surgery. You want the best results. Discuss with your surgeon.

Andrew T. Cohen, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 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.