In breast augmentation surgery, it is possible to eliminate some risk factors in order to achieve predictably good results and avoid short- and long-term complications. For this reason, any prudent plastic surgeon will always require his patients to quit smoking at least three weeks prior to surgery.
But for extra conservative doctors, patients are even advised to avoid tobacco products for several months. The idea is to wait for the body to flush out the toxins known to impede healing and increase risk of complications.
Upland plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smaili explains the four main reasons to quit smoking before breast augmentation, or better yet, to kick the nicotine habit for good.
1. Accelerated aging of the breast. Several studies have already proven the detrimental effects of smoking to skin, particularly how it breaks down collagen and leads to dry, sagging skin. For this reason, heavy smokers are more prone to breast ptosis or drooping even after factoring in other variables.
If sagging occurs after augmentation, the breast will look pendulous and unattractive. While breast lift can give some improvement, the poor skin quality of smokers could impede them to achieve optimal results.
The leading breast augmentation surgeon believes that there is no point of improving one’s appearance through surgery if she is unwilling to kick the nicotine habit or poor lifestyle known to accelerate aging.
2. Increased risk of infection and capsular contracture. Smoking can significantly increase the risk of general complications and less than optimal results.
Infection is particularly detrimental because it could trigger capsular contracture in which a thin, transparent scar tissue that normally forms around an implanted device becomes too thick. Eventually, the affected breast becomes painful and distorted, thus warranting a revision surgery.
Smokers are also prone to internal bleeding, coughing episodes (which is rather inconvenient during breast augmentation recovery), anesthetic-related complications such as pneumonia, and blood clots.
3. High incidence of reoperation. Of course, with increased risk of complications comes another problem—i.e., high incidence of reoperation which means additional expenses, emotional distress, and possibly less than optimal results.
4. Longer recovery. Cigarettes and other tobacco products are considered vasoconstrictors, meaning they cause blood vessels to tighten up, affecting the way the body recovers from surgical trauma.
Usually, quitting smoking just three weeks is enough to reverse most of its detrimental effects, although some patients who are heavy smokers are required to wait a little longer “to be on a safer side.”