Why Tobacco Products Delay Healing after Plastic Surgery

Tobacco can be one of the most detrimental products that a patient can put into the system before and after surgery. Because it takes a long time for tobacco to completely work its way through the body, and because of all the processes that it affects, it is vitally important that plastic surgery patients stop using tobacco for a few weeks before and after the surgery. No matter what surgical procedure the patient is having, tobacco products can significantly delay the healing process and should be avoided.

Lack of Oxygen in the Blood

When a person uses a tobacco product, whether it be cigarettes, cigars, or chew, oxygen is sapped out of the blood in order to help process the tobacco in that person’s system. This not only reduces the healing nutrients in the blood, it also constricts blood vessels, making it more difficult for blood to get to the incision site and help with wound closure.

Increased Risk of Infection

Because tobacco draws oxygen and nutrients out of the tissues and blood, it can be very difficult for the body to heal properly. In general, it will take twice, if not three times as long for the body to recover from surgery, simply because it does not have the nutrients and blood supply it needs. This longer healing period leaves the incision site more vulnerable to infections, as the faster the wound closes and heals, the lest time there is for an infection to develop.

Blood Thinning Properties

Cigarettes, cigars, and chew all thin the blood, as well as constrict blood vessels, making it nearly impossible for blood to travel where it needs to go. The thinner the blood is, the harder it will be for the body to properly heal itself. This means that the body has a much higher chance of developing scars and infection, instead of healing properly.

Lack of Nutrients

The body works overtime to process tobacco and all of the other chemicals that tobacco products are often processed with. This means that the body has far fewer nutrients to dedicate to the healing process. With the lack of nutrients, the more likely it is that the body will have a hard time healing itself; this slow healing increases the risk of more serious conditions like necrosis and infections.

How Long Patients Should Quit For

Patients should quit smoking for at least a month before the surgery. This gives the body ample time to remove all traces of tobacco from the system and begin to rebuild the immune system and natural body processes that will aid in proper healing. The patient should then avoid the use of tobacco products for at least three months afterwards, or until the incision site and wound are completely healed.


Avoiding tobacco products before and after plastic surgery offers many benefits. There is a significantly reduced chance of infection and necrosis, and therefore less noticeable scarring after surgery. To schedule a plastic surgery consultation and learn more about the dangers of smoking, contact Dr. John R. Griffin today.

September 30, 2014 | TOPICS: Cosmetic Surgery