Getting breast surgery or a breast procedure? If you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit. Cigarettes have a significant impact on your plastic surgery outcomes. Here’s an overview of how smoking affects breast surgery and why quitting can be beneficial.

How Smoking Affects Wound Healing

Smoking negatively impacts wound healing and increases infection risks after any type of surgery. The nicotine and various chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients required for proper healing. It also suppresses the immune system, limiting the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and infectious agents in surgical wounds.

In breast surgeries, the incisions are often located near the mammary folds underneath the breasts. This area already has decreased blood circulation compared to other parts of the body. Smoking exacerbates this issue, delays the healing of the breast tissue and skin, and affects blood vessels during the procedure.

Increased Risk of Infection and Necrosis

Slow or improper healing of surgical breast wounds can lead to two severe complications – infection and skin necrosis (tissue death). 

In the case of infection, bacteria can invade the wound area more easily due to impaired immune function and a lack of proper wound closure. Signs of surgical site infection after breast procedures may include redness, swelling, tenderness, pus/discharge, and fever. 

Necrosis occurs when the skin and tissue around the incision die due to an inadequate blood supply. The breast skin may turn black or purple and become hard to touch. Dead tissue is vulnerable to infection as well and usually requires surgical removal to prevent further spread.

Scarring Issues

The substances in cigarettes reduce the collagen level in your skin, which is needed for firm, smooth scars. If you are a smoker, you may experience wider, raised, reddish scars that are generally more conspicuous when compared to the scars of non-smokers.

Prolonged Recovery Period

The numerous healing issues caused by smoking lead to a longer recovery period after any type of breast surgery. Pain, discomfort, and surgical wound management may persist for many weeks or months. CoolSculpting, liposuction, tummy tucks, and other procedures involving incisions throughout the skin also require extended healing times when patients continue to smoke through the surgical process.

Increased Risk of Complications with Implants  

Patients who smoke and have breast implants have higher chances of implant rupture, leakage, and shifting of the implants due to inadequate surrounding tissue support. Smoking can also contribute to slower wound healing, infection, and tissue necrosis around the implant itself. So we recommend quitting smoking for the best possible outcomes and long-term implant stability.

Benefits of Quitting Before Breast Surgery

Studies show that quitting smoking for at least 4 weeks before breast surgery leads to more favourable outcomes and significantly lowers the risk of many issues. 

Preoperative smoking cessation, even for a short period, can help by:

– Increasing oxygen and nutrients to the surgical site

– Improving immune function 

– Allowing for better wound closure and collagen formation

– Reducing the chances of infection, necrosis, and scarring problems

– Shortening recovery period 

The Bottom Line

Quitting smoking improves surgical outcomes and your long-term health. Be smoke-free before and after your breast procedure, whether it be breast augmentation, breast lift, or breast reduction, for optimal safety and aesthetics. Discuss smoking cessation with your plastic surgeon and get the support you need to kick the habit. Your body will thank you.

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