Why Your Plastic Surgeon Urges You Not to Smoke

Bloomfield Hills, MI – We know by now that smoking is bad. It wreaks havoc on our body’s systems. Yet despite all this knowledge, about 15% of Americans still light up on a regular basis. If you’re considering getting plastic surgery, there are so many reasons you should quit smoking once and for all.

“From a plastic surgeon’s perspective, I can say that nonsmokers will have a more successful outcome after their procedures,” says Michigan doctor Dr. M. Azhar Ali, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “Many patients don’t consider the effects their tobacco use will have on their face lift of breast augmentation, but this is a topic worth discussing.”

What Does Smoking Do to the Body?

For many decades, the science has been clear: Smoking very much harms our bodies in many ways. Here are some:

  • Altered blood vessel size and efficiency: Smoking damages blood vessels by thickening their walls, causing them to narrow inside. This makes it much harder for the body to pump blood and thus life-giving oxygen. This usually results in elevated pulse and blood pressure, as well as a build-up of dangerous plaque and blood clots.
  • Higher risk of heart and brain problems: Coronary heart disease and stroke are directly caused by smoking. For the reasons listed above, many body systems cannot cope with the combination of ingested nicotine and tar.
  • Lung problems: While it sounds obvious, smoking very quickly and efficiently kills lung tissue. When problems like emphysema arise, some lung function may never fully recover, causing many to feel like they can’t ever get enough air.
  • Cosmetic effects: If these aren’t enough problems to consider, then think about the cosmetic effects. Smoking causes yellowed fingertips from holding cigarettes and can blacken fingernails as well. Teeth are tinged with the tar from cigarettes, tongues can develop a hair-like overgrowth of taste buds (try Googling black hairy tongue for fun), and breath will have a distinctive smoker’s smell. A smoker’s skin will wrinkle more and age faster than a nonsmoker’s. And don’t forget the smell that lingers on hair, clothing, and furniture.

How Does Smoking Affect Plastic Surgery Results?

Your entire body relies on oxygen for survival. While this may sound basic, consider that your skin, muscles, and fat cells also need oxygen. When plastic surgery procedures like tummy tucks or face lifts are done, the remaining tissue needs an oxygen supply to repair properly.

“Smoking greatly reduces the size of blood vessels, depriving cells of oxygen,” says Dr. Ali. “Oxygen is so important to good recovery after plastic surgery; without it, skin will not rejuvenate as well as it normally could.”

Other risks of smokers undergoing plastic surgery include:

  • Delayed healing of surgical wounds
  • Thicker or wider scarring
  • Increased pain after the procedure
  • Fat necrosis (death of fat cells), which can cause hard lumps in surrounding areas
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Blood clots, which can become deadly
  • Permanent small blood vessel damage
  • Loss of or damage to remaining skin and fat cells, making breast surgery much less successful

Are e-Cigarettes, Vaping, Nicotine Patches/Gum, and Smokeless Tobacco Good Alternatives?

In a word: No. These alternatives, while better for your lungs, will still have detrimental effects on your body after any surgery or medical procedure. As these alternatives still contain nicotine, they will affect your vascular system the same way as cigarettes, making recovery after surgery much more difficult and less successful.

“While it’s hard to quit, there are options available,” notes Dr. Ali. “You can consider calling a quitline, getting a phone app, or seeking counseling. Trust me: quitting smoking now will make so many aspects of life your life much better.”

If you’re interested in getting any type of plastic surgery done or to learn more about the use of nicotine and its effects on your health, schedule a free consultation with award-winning Detroit area plastic surgeon Dr. Ali.

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