I have performed many facial cosmetic surgery procedures on smokers. I understand that smoking is one of those things that is very hard to stop, especially if the habit has occurred over many years. The big downside to smoking after having a facial cosmetic surgery procedure is that the smoke will come in contact with the wounds, potentially causing decreased blood flow around the healing areas, and decreasing this blood flow will not allow optimal healing. On top of that, the nicotine contained in cigarettes can cause the blood vessels to constrict, which further reduces blood flow in the wounds. Both of these effects from smoking can cause a wound to break down. For a facial wound to heal nicely, maximal blood flow around the wound should take place.


This being said, I have smokers stop for 2 weeks prior to the procedure and 2 weeks after. That’ll be a total of one month free of cigarettes. During that period, I usually recommend the patch, Nicorette gum, or candy cigarettes (if only it were that easy). It is crucial that smoking be reduced in some way just to prevent wound breakdown.


So what happens when a wound breaks down? Fortunately, I have not had to deal with too many of these in the smokers. But essentially if a wound breaks down, the stitches loosen up and the wound becomes open. Not only that, but the skin becomes dark and it becomes a breeding ground for an infection. Now this all happens when the rules are not followed. That is, despite the direct order to stop smoking, patients decide to puff away after facial cosmetic surgery.


Moral of this story: Can I perform facial cosmetic surgery if you’re a smoker? Yes. If I do, please, please, please follow the recommendation to temporarily stop. Treating a wound breakdown can become very difficult. However, if you’re careful and take care of your wounds, you will love the results in the end.



Thank you for reading.



Dr. Kim

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