Smoking after stomach surgery. Any suggestions?

Doctor Answers 16

Smoking and surgery

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Using tobacco 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 patients 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.

Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews


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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 Abdominal Surgery

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In general, smoking cigarette is not good for your health. Smoking is detrimental to wound healing that is required for surgical incisions like tummy tucks. I strongly recommend that you refrain from smoking at least 4 weeks before and after a tummy tuck to minimize the chances of poor wound healing. Before surgery, please discuss this smoking issue with your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to increase your chance of healing well without vascular complications.

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 Thank you for your question. Smoking is never recommended post operatively. Smoking decreases blood flow to tissues that are healing. Smoking decrease his oxygen supply to healing tissues. Smoking increases scar tissue formation and  tissue necrosis. If you were able to stop smoking for your surgical procedure I recommend continuing your smoking cessation.

Johnny Shea-Yuan Chung, MD, FACS
Allentown Plastic Surgeon

Smoking and surgery

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Smoking reduces the blood flow to your skin and periphery, therefore it will increase your chances of complications following surgery, particularly problems due to infection and poor wound healing. 

If you want to get the best results with the least complications from surgery, you should stop smoking.  Most surgeons recommend a period of around 6 weeks before and after the surgery.

Your local doctor and other organisations such as "Quit" can help you go through the difficult process of stopping smoking.

Kind regards,


Smoking after surgery

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Hello dear, thanks for your question. Smoking introduces carbon monoxide into your system, which steals oxygen from the tissues, as well as nicotine, which crimps down on the blood vessels. There are many side effects, including longer healing time, worsened scars and more complications in patients who smoke.

Complications that arise because of the choices that our patient makes is something that we would like to help avoid. Most board certified plastic surgeons who I know and respect really want their patients to have better outcomes, so they will require their patients to quit smoking for at least 3 weeks before the procedure in order to decrease the potential problems.

So the short answer is that you will get better healing and fewer complications if you maximize the oxygen going to your tissues by not smoking. Conversely, if you smoke and thus deprive your tissues of oxygen, you are at greater risk for more complications and worsened scarring.

Good luck :)

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 441 reviews

Smoking and tummy tuck

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Smoking should be stopped before and after a tummy tuck. I suggest 6 weeks before and 6 weeks afterward. Smoking causes poor healing of the lower flap and can result in death of the tissue. This will produce a large wound and months to heal , giving a bad scar. Smoking can increase the risk of complications by 50 %.

Sheila Bond, MD
Montclair Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Smoking and Tummy tuck?

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I personally refuse to do a full abdominoplasty in someone how smokes.All kinds of major and minor complication risks go up.I prefer at least 6 weeks free of all nicotine including cigarettes,cigars,weed,patches and gums.If you proceed you also need to be honest with yourself and your doctor,if you cheat you are only fooling yourself.Some doctors feel so strongly about this issue they insist on a urine test right before surgery.

Robert Savage, MD (retired)
Wellesley Plastic Surgeon

Dont' smoke

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smoking before and after surgery increased complication risk. Don't do it.  I recommend no smoking for minimum of 4 weeks prior and 6 weeks after (sometimes longer depending on the procedure).

Smoking and any surgery

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Smoking greatly increases the risk of poor healing,complications and bad scar formation. Why then would you smoke?

Robert M. Tornambe, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 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.