Facial plastic surgery and smoking do not mix. First and foremost, smokers have compromised healing due to the effects of nicotine and the hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals found in a single cigarette stick.
While instructions about complete cessation of tobacco products may differ from surgeon to surgeon, the consensus is that three weeks is enough to flush out most of their detrimental effects.
Tobacco products contain nicotine, which is a strong vasoconstrictor, i.e., it causes blood vessels to constrict therefore the nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood flows less efficiently. Ultimately, it takes a longer time for the patients to heal and they become more susceptible to infection and skin necrosis in which the tissue turns black and dies due to lack of oxygen.
Facelift for smokers is particularly risky. In this procedure doctors create skin flaps, which are healthy tissue that is partly detached and moved to create a tighter, more youthful appearance.
But with constricted blood vessels these skin flaps may not receive enough oxygen and nutrients and ultimately “die.” For this reason smokers are more likely to have revisions than non-smokers after facial plastic surgery to address poor scarring.
Also, smoking defeats the inherent purpose of facelift, i.e., to achieve a more youthful appearance, because it significantly accelerates the skin’s aging rate.
Smoking also has detrimental effects on patients having rhinoplasty, or more commonly referred to as nose job. According to California Surgical Institute website, because of the delay healing the grafts and the underlying anatomies of the nose are susceptible to injuries for a longer period of time.
After about two weeks, the grafts and the new contour created by rhinoplasty are more “stable.” But in smokers, the healing process occurs at a much slower pace that they are at an increased risk of inadvertent shifting of the bones due to trauma.
Coughing episode is another common issue with smokers since tobacco disturbs the lining of the lungs and bronchi.
It is important to note that coughing episodes could lead to hematoma (internal bleeding) and persistent swelling, further complicating the patient’s recovery.
Furthermore, a 2005 study has suggested that smokers require 23 percent more pain medications after an operation, and 33 percent more anesthesia during surgery than non-smokers.