MED0001157212 - This website contains imagery which is only suitable for audiences 18+. All surgery contains risks, Read more here.

The Impact of Nicotine on Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Outcomes


The Impact of Nicotine on Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Outcomes


When it comes to preparing for surgery, patients can often focus on physical health and lifestyle adjustments. However, one aspect that is frequently overlooked but plays a significant role in surgical outcomes is nicotine intake. Whether through smoking or other forms of nicotine consumption, such as vaping, patches and even gum. It is important to note that this habit can have a profound impact on the body’s ability to heal and recover.

In this blog, we will cover how nicotine affects surgery, particularly in the context of plastic surgery, and why it is crucial to abstain from nicotine intake for the recommended six week period prior to the procedure. Studies detail that one of the concerns during surgery lies in nicotine’s ability to constrict blood vessels, which is known as vasoconstriction. This leads to reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to vital tissues. This effect can impede the body’s natural healing processes, increase the risk of infection, and compromise tissue viability.

Collagen Interference

Nicotine has been shown to interfere with the production of collagen, a crucial protein responsible for the skin’s elasticity and strength. Collagen is essential for the formation of scar tissue, and its disruption can lead to unfavourable scarring and compromised aesthetic results.

Anaesthesia Complications

Nicotine’s effects extend beyond the surgical side and cross into the realm of anaesthesia. Smokers or those with nicotine in their system may experience complications related to anaesthesia. This is due to the fact that nicotine stimulates catecholamine, which includes substances like adrenaline. While under anaesthesia the usual control your body has can be disrupted and the release of these chemicals can become more unpredictable and intense. This can lead to changes in heart rate and blood pressure. Hence why it is important to disclose if you are or have used nicotine leading up to the procedure’s date.

Reducing Surgery Risks

To mitigate the risks associated with nicotine intake, it is recommended that patients cease all forms of nicotine consumption at least six weeks before undergoing surgery. We want to emphasize that this includes not only smoking but also the use of nicotine patches, gum, and e-cigarettes.

The benefits that are associated with the time periods in which you cease nicotine use, in this case smoking, that have been outlined by the Queensland Government are detailed below.

  • At eight hours your heart rate and blood pressure will begin to return to normal.
  • At twelve hours the nicotine and carbon monoxide in your body will drop dramatically.
  • At one week the cilia in your lungs will have begun to recover and will start cleaning mucus out of your lungs.
  • At two weeks your throat and the large airways in your lungs will be less reactive, causing fewer problems with breathing during surgery.
  • At three weeks your body’s ability to heal wounds will have begun to improve.
  • At four weeks the small airways in your lungs will be working better and will continue to improve.
  • At six weeks your lungs will produce a normal amount of mucus, which will help your breathing during surgery.
  • At eight weeks your risk of lung complications will be lower than that of a continuing smoker. Your blood will be less thick and sticky, and your blood flow will improve. Your risk of wound complications will be much less than that of a continuing smoker. Your immune system and your response to anaesthetic drugs will also improve. Your rate or extent of recovery may also depend on other things, such as whether you already have an advanced smoking-related illness.

Dr Scamp’s Stance

Dr Scamp is committed to delivering optimal results for his patients, which is why he emphasises the importance of a nicotine-free preoperative period. Due to the well-documented risks associated with nicotine, Dr Scamp has a strict policy regarding nicotine intake before surgery. While we recommend ceasing the usage of nicotine products, there are some surgeries that Dr Scamp will not perform if you decide to continue the usage or consumption of nicotine products.

We hope that by detailing the recognised risks associated with nicotine intake, patients can make informed decisions that contribute to their overall well-being and the success of their surgery. For any questions regarding this topic please do not hesitate to contact us, as the best decisions are informed ones.