Why smoking could sabotage your cosmetic surgery

Smoking and cosmetic surgery risks

At the beginning of the year, the World Health Organisation launched a global campaign to support at least 100 million people to quit tobacco and last month marked World No Tobacco Day 2021.

As part of their campaign, WHO released a publication entitled ‘More than 100 reasons to quit tobacco’. As well as covering the serious health complications, they also pointed out that tobacco use can affect your looks almost immediately.

Smoking and facial ageing

We all know the impact of smoking on our lungs, but it also affects our skin’s ability to breathe. Smoking constricts the flow of oxygenated blood to the skin meaning you have a reduced ability to heal and a greater risk of prematurely developing wrinkles. In fact, it is estimated that the effects of smoking on the skin are double that of sun damage.

Another side effect of smoking is the increased risk of telangiectasia or, as it is more commonly known, spider veins. This occurs when the small blood vessels in the body dilate and it is very noticeable close to the skin, appearing as either thin, broken veins or sometimes as purple patches. The damage to our blood vessels caused by nicotine is a risk factor for telangiectasia.

Many of the thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke also destroy collagen and elastin, the components of the dermis that provide the firmness, elasticity and plumpness of the skin. Sagging skin and uneven colouring can result.

As well as losing skin elasticity, you are also likely to develop dynamic wrinkles around the mouth and the eyes. The perioral muscles are continually contracting and relaxing as you inhale and exhale, causing vertical lines to appear around the lips, often known as smoker’s lines. Constant squinting from smoke irritation can also lead to deep lines around the eyes.

If you’re considering cosmetic surgery to combat the signs of premature ageing, though, Mr Juling Ong will advise you to stop smoking in advance of your operation and for a period afterwards, although quitting for good is the best way to protect your results.

Why you should stop smoking both before and after cosmetic surgery

  1. Smokers are far more likely to have complications related to the anaesthetic and it’s even thought to lower your pain threshold
  2. Smoking impedes the healing process: as we’ve explained, nicotine constricts the blood vessels, so the supply of oxygen and nutrients is compromised, resulting in delayed wound healing and scar formation
  3. The risk of infection is increased; slower wound healing makes you more vulnerable to infection
  4. Smoking is linked to tissue necrosis; plastic and reconstructive surgery differs from general surgical procedures in that your surgeon will be lifting, stretching, remodelling and removing the skin and tissues to achieve the optimal result. A good supply of oxygenated blood is required to ensure the treated tissue survives. Studies have shown that facelift patients that smoke are 12.5 times more likely to experience skin necrosis
  5. The risk of blood clots is higher; smoking is a recognised risk factor in the development of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis

It’s not just cigarettes; nicotine in any form, whether that’s gum, patches, chewing tobacco and even e-cigarettes, is not advised. Even secondary smoke should be avoided.

For more advice on how best to prepare for cosmetic surgery, call 020 7927 6528 to arrange a consultation with Mr Juling Ong.