Smoking, Secondary Smoke and Healing
All procedures in plastic surgery are performed to improve form and in some cases, function. Our goal as plastic surgeons is to achieve improvement with minimal scarring. Unfortunately, smoking and secondary smoke affect wound healing in a potentially devastating way. Please be honest with us about your exposure to smoke so we can take good care of you and prevent problems and complications with your procedure.
Here are some online resources about the health risks of smoking and information about how to quit smoking:
Any exposure to smoke either directly or indirectly can result in poor wound healing, delayed wound healing, skin loss necessitating skin grafting, increased risk of wound infection, and loss of skin and deeper tissues, all resulting from decreased blood supply to those areas. The diminished blood flow to skin wound edges can cause the breakdown of skin and scabbing, which will adversely affect the quality and character of the scarring (there is an increased risk of hypertrophic or keloid scarring). This is true for any surgical procedures requiring incisions (even skin lesion removal and liposuction).
The following is a partial list of cosmetic procedures and the impact that smoking or inhaling second hand smoke may have on would healing. It is not intended to be a complete list of procedures or list of all possible complications.
Slow wound healing (months instead of weeks), skin loss resulting in scabbing and prolonged need for dressing changes and infection usually involving the need for antibiotics (but sometimes another surgery to drain the infection) are all complications that can occur if you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke. If you have either stopped smoking very recently or have been unable to stop completely, you must accept these risks if you wish to proceed with surgery.