I’ve been told to quit smoking before undergoing surgery for a cosmetic procedure. What does smoking have to do with surgery?
It’s no secret that smoking causes serious health problems, including heart disease, asthma and lung cancer. If you are having surgery, you also may experience complications related to smoking and anaesthesia. This is especially true if you are having general anaesthesia — the type that makes you lose consciousness.
If you smoke and are having surgery, anaesthesiologists recommend you quit smoking as soon as possible before the procedure. It’s also important to meet with your physician anaesthesiologist about your smoking and how it might affect your anaesthesia care plan.
If you smoke, your heart and lungs don’t work as well as they should. You may have breathing problems during or after surgery, and you are at greater risk of developing pneumonia. You are also much more likely to need a ventilator, a machine that breathes for you, after surgery. In addition, smoking reduces blood flow, which slows healing, so your surgical incision is more likely to become infected. The longer an incision takes to heal, the more noticeable the scar will be. Because nicotine slows healing, it results in increased scar formation. As a general rule, smokers tend to have more noticeable scarring after plastic surgery. Because smoking is a major cause of heart disease, your chances of suffering a heart attack during or after surgery increase.
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It may be hard to believe, but quitting smoking even the day before surgery can lower risk of complications. This is because your body starts to heal and your heart and lungs begin to work better as soon as you quit. The levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide – the unhealthy chemicals you inhale in cigarette smoke – begin dropping immediately, improving blood flow and reducing the likelihood of problems.
The earlier you quit the better – preferably a week or more before your surgery. It’s also helpful to not smoke during your recovery from surgery.
Dr Chadi Jaber is a plastic surgeon at Bloom Aesthetic and Laser Centre. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.