Cosmetic surgery can help patients quit smoking
I read somewhere that cosmetic surgery can help patients quit smoking; is that true?
If you’re a smoker considering cosmetic surgery, your plastic surgeon will likely require you to stop smoking for at least two weeks before your procedure because smoking can result in serious complications.
A long-term follow-up study reported on in the September issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® finds that many patients receiving instructions to stop smoking from a plastic surgeon will quit smoking, or at least smoke less, in the years after cosmetic surgery.
To see a video about cosmetic surgery patients and the rate of smoking cessation from the editor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery CLICK HERE.
The study shows an association between cosmetic surgery and smoking cessation at long-term follow-up, which suggests that surgeons who request preoperative smoking cessation are clearly influencing the long-term smoking status of their patients.
As part of the study, 85 patients who were previously labeled as smokers, were required to refrain from smoking for at least two weeks before their procedures.
Five years after cosmetic surgery, 42 patients who were previously daily smokers, responded to a follow-up survey. Most of the patients were women; the average age was 40 years. The most common procedures were tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), breast lift (mastopexy), and facelift.
40 percent of the patients who responded to the follow-up survey said they no longer smoked cigarettes on a daily basis. Nearly one-fourth had not smoked even one cigarette since their cosmetic surgery procedure.
Seventy percent of the respondents agreed that discussing their increased surgical risks with the plastic surgeon influenced their ability to quit or reduce smoking.
The results suggest that patients were more motivated to quit by targeted messaging provided by the surgeons who gave them specific examples of the negative effects of smoking, instead of just an overview of general health benefits from smoking cessation. Previous research had confirmed that patients who undergo cosmetic surgery are more motivated in general to sustain positive lifestyle changes.
How does smoking negatively affect surgical results?
Everyone knows that smoking is dangerous, but the effects of tobacco use impact far more than just our lungs. Carbon monoxide introduced during smoking affects the tissue, and the nicotine found in tobacco products can cause blood vessels to restrict, limiting the amount of oxygen that can get to the rest of the body.
If patients continue to smoke right up until surgery it can result in complications and issues after surgery including:
- Compromised circulation, which can cause the skin to breakdown
- A higher rate of post-op infection
- Impeded healing
- Impaired healing can lead to scarring, necrosis and skin loss
Facelifts can be very adversely affected by smoking. And as a result many surgeons will not perform facelift procedures on smokers; other surgeons will require that patients quit smoking for a longer time period pre-surgery. This is because the effects of smoking greatly restrict blood flow, and a good blood flow in the tiny capillaries of the face is essential in a facelift. In this procedure the facial tissue is lifted up from the surface, and if the capillaries have been impaired due to smoking, it can make healing much harder and in some cases can result in unsightly scars.
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