Smoking is not only bad for your health in general but it puts you at a significantly increased risk of medical complications during and after facelift surgery. There is absolutely zero dispute among qualified surgeons that smoking is bad for the patient and bad for the procedure and the final cosmetic results. For this reason, doctors advise their patients not to smoke or to quit smoking at least four to eight weeks prior to surgery.
Aside from the dozens of chemical carcinogens found in cured tobacco products like cigarettes, the nicotine content in cigarettes is a potent vaso-constrictor. This means that the active nicotine ingredient in cigarettes causes the arteries and veins and fine capillaries of the circulatory system to tighten, restricting blood flow.
The disruption of nutrient blood flow to the skin is one of the more severe risk factors in facelift procedures involving patients who smoke. Without a constant blood supply to the surgical areas, there is a significant risk of large patches of dead skin forming and permanently scarred tissue. This is especially so for patients undergoing deeper facelift surgery such as the SMAS and Deep Plane procedures which disrupt blood supply to the skin.
Impaired nutritional blood flow to the skin increases the risk of tissue ischemia or insufficient healing of the injured facial skin. The safety of the anesthesia is also in question for smokers because of the effect nicotine has on blood circulation and its potential interaction with the anesthetic. Doctors do, in fact, care about their patients and the success of their chosen facelift procedure, so they and are adamant that their patients become tobacco-free.
Out of an estimated 45 million smokers who try to quit the killer habit each year, a paltry 5 percent actually do so for life. For a short-lived nicotine “fix”, candidates for facelift surgery who can’t, or won’t, quit smoking put themselves at risk of poor wound healing, permanent disfigurement, serious tissue infection, and ugly red scars that may never go away.
The average cost of a pack of cigarettes these days is around $10. That’s $1,560 a year for the person who smokes three packs of cigarettes each week. Is it worth the price when it comes to your good health and facial appearance?
Before considering a facelift or any other facial surgery, take the time to kick the smoking habit. The prospect of living longer looking younger should be all the motivation you need.
Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist with offices located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Contact The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation.