smoking and cosmetic surgery risks

Smoking heightens risk of developing complications following cosmetic surgery

It is well known that smoking is not good for your health and can be responsible for creating or exacerbating a wide number of health problems. Cosmetic surgeons always recommend that patients who smoke try and refrain from smoking in the weeks leading up to their operation and then for as long as possible afterwards, as smoking can affect the body’s ability to heal. New research which has been published in January 2019 by the Aesthetic Surgery Journal has found yet more evidence which supports how bad smoking can be for patients undergoing cosmetic surgery.

Extensive data analysis into smoking and cosmetic surgery risks

The research was large-scale, comprising data collected from 129,007 cosmetic surgery patients. It was carried out by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, led by researchers in the Department of Plastic Surgery. The data was sourced from insurance company CosmetAssure, which operates in the US providing cover for 24 different cosmetic surgery procedures when patients suffer unexpected major complications.

Research findings into smoking and cosmetic surgery

The data showed that, for cosmetic surgery operations on the body (rather than the face or breasts), smokers are at greater risk of developing complications post-operatively, compared with non-smokers. Evidence shows that for some operations, the difference is startling. For example, patients choosing significant operations such as an abdominoplasty or buttock augmentation, the complication rate was 2.9% for smokers compared with 1.9% for non-smokers. Thigh lift operations showed the greatest variance, with a complication rate of 23.8% for smokers versus 3.6% for non-smokers. Male breast surgery also demonstrated a notably higher risk for smokers.

Perhaps most worrying, it was found that smoking heightened the risk of the wound/incision site becoming infected by a massive 61%. If caught early and treated effectively, infected wounds can be successfully treated, but if overlooked, ignored or extensive, these can cause significant setbacks in recovery, and can sometimes lead to much more serious complications.

Helping ensure everyone knows the risks

Plastic surgeons will continue to recommend patients temporarily abstain or (ideally) stop smoking altogether if they are considering cosmetic surgery, and the evidence from reports such as this gives surgeons the facts, figures and information to help land this message effectively with patients, adding clarity in support of their guidance.

Report authors believe “the findings of our study will further assist surgeons in anticipating the extent of morbidity that may be seen in smokers following cosmetic surgery, and how those risks vary depending on the operative procedure.”

To discuss further the link between smoking and cosmetic surgery and what you should do if you’re contemplating undergoing a procedure, call‬ ‬‭01926 436341 to arrange a consultation with Mr Alan Park at his Warwickshire cosmetic surgery clinic.