Smoking and Surgery Don’t Mix

Cigarette smoke contains many toxic chemicals. This fact is well known and is in fact written on each and every packet of cigarettes. Cigarette smoke, whether inhaled directly or through inhaling the smoke of others (passive smoking), will seriously increase the risks of problems associated with surgery.

As most people will be aware, smoking is the greatest preventable cause of death in Western society. Approximately 90% of all drug-related deaths are due to smoking. Statistics show that every cigarette smoked reduces you life expectancy by about 15 minutes. Post surgical problems directly related to smoking included the following

  • Delayed and impaired wound healing
  • Reduction in scar quality
  • Increased risk of hypertrophic and keloid (raised and lumpy) scars
  • Fat necrosis (death of some subcutaneous fat lying under the skin)
  • Skin necrosis (death of overlying skin also)
  • Need for secondary or corrective surgery with additional expense
  • Profound reduction in cosmetic outcome

Smoking will also increase the risk of problems relating to anesthesia, particularly if general anesthesia is used. Such problems include:

  • Atelectasis (collapse in the lower parts of the lungs)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Myocardial infarction (heart-attack)
  • Stroke (especially if on the oral contraceptive pill)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in leg and pelvic veins)
  • Pulmonary embolism (such blood clots travelling to the lungs)
  • Death or severe debility as a consequence of these problems

Your planned surgery is an elective procedure. You have chosen to see a plastic surgeon to get the very best possible results. We certainly do not want to increase the risk of problems to you, and it makes no sense that you would voluntarily choose to do so.

Prior to any elective surgical procedure, you must avoid all cigarette smoke and all nicotine containing products for at least four weeks before and four weeks after your surgery, regardless of the type of procedure you are having performed.

If you anticipate difficulty in doing this please plan a visit to your GP well in advance of your surgery date. This will allow you to take the necessary steps to reduce your levels of nicotine and therefore aid you to stop smoking prior to surgery. If you are still using nicotine of any sort (cigarettes, patches or creams) 21 days prior to surgery you must contact our rooms to reschedule the date of your surgery.