Many plastic surgeons will postpone or reschedule the surgery of their patients who are sick—e.g., common colds, flu, urinary tract infection, and even minor cough. This “guideline” is particularly true if symptoms such as fever, productive cough, and breathing difficulty are present.
Because plastic surgery procedures are commonly performed under general anesthesia, any sign of breathing difficulty is a reason enough to delay surgery until the patient is better.
However, some surgeons feel that patients with just a minor cough or cold can safely proceed with an elective surgery.
But when it comes to breast augmentation in which artificial prosthetics are used, it is not uncommon for surgeons to be extra conservative, meaning that even a minor cough might be enough to postpone the surgery because of the perceived increased risk of implant infection and capsular contracture.
The theory is that a “suppressed” immune system could predispose the patient to higher risk of implant contamination or infection, which could lead to capsular contracture, or a thick scar tissue that forms around an artificial prosthetic, causing the breasts to look and feel different.
In late stages of capsular contracture, the breast is painful and has a distorted appearance—symptoms that can be only treated by a revision surgery in which the thickened scar tissue and implants are removed. If there is plan to use new prostheses, most experts suggest waiting for a couple of months so the infection will clear up, thus minimizing the risk of recurrence.
Plastic surgeons are also extra conservative when the surgery involves the mid section—e.g., tummy tuck and extensive abdominal liposuction—since any amount of coughing could put tension on the incisions and lead to wound healing problems and “unnecessary” discomfort.
Because it is ideal to be in one’s optimal health prior to an elective surgery, LA plastic surgeons typically recommend frequent washing of hands to prevent cold and flu, sticking to superb nutrition, and avoiding strenuous exercise that could lead to injuries at least a week prior to surgery.