Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes. Nicotine can have a number of negative health effects, including impaired wound healing after surgery. This is an especially important consideration when planning for elective cosmetic surgery. Elective cosmetic surgery is not medically necessary and Dr. Wooten places patient safety above all else, therefore she requires that patients be nicotine-free prior to booking certain surgeries.
Some surgeries which involve longer incision lines, and therefore may potentially incur greater healing requirements. Any potential compromise in healing for these surgeries is not acceptable for Dr. Wooten, who seeks to deliver beautiful results for her patients. Some surgeries which have these longer incisions and which she requires to be performed nicotine-free are Abdominoplasty (a.k.a. Tummy Tucks) and Mastopexy (a.k.a. Breast Lifts), among others.
Here are some of the ways that nicotine can impede healing after surgery:
- Reduces blood flow to the wound site. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, which reduces the amount of blood flow to the wound site. This slows delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the wound, which makes it more difficult for the body to heal, thereby increasing risk of tissue necrosis.
- Interferes with collagen production. Collagen is a protein that is essential for wound healing. Nicotine interferes with the production of collagen, which can slow down the healing process.
- Suppresses the immune response. Nicotine suppresses the immune system, which makes it more difficult for the body to fight infection. This increases risk of infection at the wound site.
- Increases the risk of blood clots. Nicotine increases the risk of blood clots, which can be a serious problem after surgery, as it may lead to complications such as stroke or heart attack.
For these reasons, it is important to quit smoking or using other tobacco products before surgery. For younger generations, vaping and other alternate forms of nicotine have become more common and they are just as risky as cigarettes. If you are unable to quit smoking completely, talk to your Primary Care Physician (PCP) about using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to help you reduce your nicotine intake. NRT can help you to quit smoking – without having to go through the withdrawal symptoms that can be associated with quitting cold turkey!
One factor that some patients may also need to consider is second-hand smoke. Dr. Wooten and her clinical staff stress the importance of also avoiding second-hand smoke in your home and workplace during your recovery. Let them know your situation during your consultation, and they will help you to work out a plan which will accommodate your situation.
Quitting smoking before surgery is one of the best things you can do to improve chances of a successful outcome. If you are planning to come in for a Tummy Tuck or Breast Lift consultation at Beleza, consider giving your PCP a call to talk about quitting smoking. At the end of the day, Dr. Wooten aims to deliver natural-looking, beautiful, and well-healed plastic surgery results. Compliance with Beleza’s nicotine-free protocols is crucial to achieve this goal.