Smoking is BAD for your skin!
All procedures in plastic surgery are performed to improve form and, in some cases, function. Our goal as Plastic Surgeons is to have a perfect form and perfect scars. Unfortunately, smoking and secondary smoke affect wound healing in potentially a very devastating way. Any exposure to smoke either directly or indirectly can result in poor wound healing, delayed wound healing, skin loss necessitating skin grafting, increased risk in 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. Also, there are well-known increased risks with anesthesia such as increased chance of developing pneumonia.
Again, remember that 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) all are complications that can occur at a much higher risk if you smoke or are exposed to smoke (Instead of less than 5%, it can be as high as 60% ).
Smoking is also a proven creator of free radicals. Smoking has also been directly linked with elevations in matrix metalloproteinase-1, a zinc dependent protein responsible for the degradation of skin dermal collagen.
Please be honest with your surgeon so that they can take good care of you and help prevent problems. These are totally elective operations so there is no reason to take any unnecessary risks. If your surgeon tells you smoking is not a problem, I would think twice about your choice of surgeon.
To bring the point home, please look closely at the below pictures from an ASPS study on identical twins with different smoking histories. Notice the remarkable difference in skin quality and aging. Smoking is bad for your skin and makes you age faster.
(Guyuron B Facial Aging In Identical twins. PRS 2009; 123:1321-1331)
How Can I Quit Smoking?
Why should I quit smoking?
Smoking cigarettes tops the list of major risk factors of our number on killer- heart and blood vessel disease. In fact, almost one-fifth of deaths from heart disease are caused by smoking. The long list of diseases and deaths due to smoking is frightening. Smoking also harms thousands of nonsmokers who are exposed to cigarette smoke, including infants, kids and children.
If you smoke, you have good reason to worry about its effect on your health, your loved ones, and others. You could become one of the more than 430,000 deaths smoking causes every year. When you quit, you reduce that risk tremendously!
What if I smoke after quitting?
How can I learn more?