D id you know that in addition to the myriad of health horrors associated with smoking, there’s a whole pack of reasons you need to stop smoking before surgery? Compromised healing after surgery can be one of the most serious of smoking hazards. This painting by Vincent Van Gogh is pretty direct in its message. Smoking can be deadly.
Smoking reduces blood flow and the amount of oxygen available to cells for healing. Dr. Gilbert Lee cautions all of his patients during their initial consultation of the importance of stopping smoking at least 4 weeks prior to surgery. He explains how smoking can increase the risk of infection and interfere with wound healing, not only in simple procedures but especially in complex surgeries.
Nicotine constricts the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the wound and keep the skin alive while you heal from surgery. Without adequate blood supply to the wound, blood clots may form, stitches may come apart, scarring increases and grafted skin may fail to thrive. Necrosis is the death of healthy tissue wherein the skin turns black and sloughs away. Surgical procedures such as breast lifts (mastopexy) and breast reconstruction are particularly prone to compromised healing if the patient continues to smoke. Grafted tissue without proper oxygenation can literally die. It’s not pretty.
It’s important to be honest with yourself and your doctor if you are a smoker. If you’re afraid you can’t live without your cigarettes before, during and after your surgery, it is better to postpone your surgery rather than risk the ugly consequences.
For more information on smoking and surgery, contact us below.
Copyright 2014 Jill Darrah for Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa