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Cosmetic Surgeons & Smoking

“Here are ways to stop smoking”

Virtually all cosmetic plastic surgeons insist their patients stop smoking two weeks before and two weeks after surgery.

Why? Smokers have more after surgery complications and infections and may make the task of anesthesiologists more difficult during surgery.

But why stop for only a month? Medical science knows that cigarette smoking is the top cause of preventable deaths worldwide.

And why should cosmetic surgeons stop there? With a little help and encouragement, perhaps more cosmetic surgery patients could quit for good.

So, plastic surgeons in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of British Columbia organized an eight-year study of former cosmetic surgery patients to find how many quit for good.

The study is printed in the current issue of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, a technical magazine for cosmetic plastic surgeons.

The study group searched out patients who had:

The above three procedures involve longer incisions which, in smokers, involve more wound infections and dehiscence, when repaired surgical wounds pull apart.

The cosmetic surgeons found 85 such smokers and former patients and asked them to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. Forty-seven completed the survey.

Results? Five patients were “social smokers” and excluded from the study.

  • Of 42 daily smokers, 17 were no longer smoking daily. Of those 17, ten said they had not smoked since their cosmetic surgery. Another 24 said they reduced smoking by various amounts.

Seventeen patients said learning about possible adverse reactions during and after surgery influenced their ability to quit or reduce their amount of smoking.

And the surprising finding: Half of the study group (21 of 42 patients) said they had not been compliant with doctors’ orders about stopping smoking before and after their procedures.

The authors point out that cosmetic surgery patients are a unique sub-set of surgical patients who may be operating from a position of self-improvement. If so, they are more likely to permanently give up smoking, given a bit more encouragement and anti-smoking coping tips and help like counseling and nicotine replacement therapy.

The authors finally suggest that cosmetic plastic surgery offices and consultations just might provide a unique opportunity to promote a healthier lifestyle that excludes any tobacco use and lasts long after surgery.

(Read the surgeons’ take on no smoking before cosmetic surgery.)