Smoking and surgery don’t mix

It’s no news flash that smoking and surgery don’t mix but putting an end to lighting up may be even more critical when it comes to the intricacies of cosmetic surgery.

Compared to non-smoking patients, patients who smoke have been shown to experience twice the rate of post-surgical complications as non-smokers and a 38 per cent increased risk of death.

Imagine your blood vessels like oil pipelines supplying your body with the oxygen and

nutrients required to function properly and heal wounds. When blood vessels are healthy, they can help your body recover after surgery by rushing vital nutrients and oxygenated blood to wounded tissue and incision sites.

The blood vessels of someone who regularly uses nicotine are more like skinny drinking straws that struggle to transport rich, oxygenated blood. In a nutshell, nicotine significantly affects how well your body can heal after surgery because it constricts your blood vessels.

Unlike some general surgeries, cosmetic surgery works in layers of skin, fascia, fat, and muscle. Your surgeon is often working layer by layer to lift, pull, stretch, remove, and reposition various tissues. That means each delicate layer will have blood vessels that may be severed and will need to heal. It is the remaining blood vessels’ job to pick up the slack and ensure the surrounding tissues get the oxygen and nutrients they need to heal.

Without adequate oxygen supply to each of these layers, your wound healing capacity may not just be compromised, but tissues may die.

What other problems can nicotine use potentially cause for plastic surgery?

  • Heightened risk of infection.
  • Death of fat cells, potentially resulting in hardened lumps.
  • Complications with wound healing.
  • Thickened, more pigmented scarring.
  • Blood clots, which can be fatal.
  • Increased pain and discomfort after surgery.
  • Permanent damage to small blood vessels.
  • Complications with breast implants.
  • Heightened risk of stroke and heart attack during and after surgery.
  • Increased risk of pneumonia after surgery.
  • Reduced skin flap survival rates.


Receive help to quit and go smoke-free by calling 01472 325500 or texting “Wellbeing” to 60060 and the Live Well Wellbeing Service team will call you back.

To find out how you can receive help to quit and go smoke free call 01472 325500 or text “Wellbeing” to 60060 and they will call you.