Q: I’m about to have a facelift and my surgeon has strongly encouraged me not to smoke. I am addicted to smoking and I don’t want to stop. Do you really think it’s important for me to stop smoking prior to surgery?
A. That would be an unequivocal yes! If you were in my office and suggested that you would not quit smoking at least two to four weeks prior to having your surgery, I would not perform your surgery. I have even gone as far as canceling a surgery and refunding my patient’s money when in the pre-operative area I smelled cigarette smoke. (She confessed that she had been smoking that day. )
If your surgeon truly cares about you and your outcome, he or she will do the same thing. While there are many surgeons that are not as strict, all it takes is to see one person with a bad result after smoking to convince you that it’s very important for you and your patient.
The reason that it is so important not to smoke prior to surgery is that nicotine and cigarette smoke will compromise your blood supply. When blood is compromised to the face area, skin dies and you can have significant scarring and total skin loss. While many of the complications associated with smoking can be resolved and patients can have good results, that is not often the case.
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The healing takes longer and the patient and the doctor are put under significant duress. In addition to the complications of healing, smoking can compromise your ability to breathe well and may cause lung problems after surgery. If a patient is unwilling to stop smoking, they are demonstrating a lack of commitment to their wellness and an inability to follow directions that are in their best interest.
In order to be a successful surgeon, you have to have patients who are committed to their own care so best results can be accomplished. If your surgeon is willing to compromise your care, then you should know that there are many fine surgeons in the community who are not.
Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner in Miami Plastic Surgery and is board certified. Email your questions to him at: Cwolf@miamiplasticsurgery.com