Smoking and Breast Surgery: A Dangerous Combination
Smoking tobacco raises your risk of cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach, and each cigarette you smoke increases the likelihood that you will develop heart disease, bronchitis or emphysema, or experience a stroke.
Smoking constricts your blood vessels and inhibits the binding of oxygen, lowering the amount of oxygen that is available to your cells. Insufficient oxygen impedes your body's ability to heal after surgery and increases your risk for wound separation, skin death and raised, red scars. As a smoker, you will also have a higher risk of anesthesia complications and post-surgery infections than your non-smoking counterparts. Many surgeons won't even perform breast enhancement procedures on smokers.
In general, smokers who undergo surgery have longer hospital stays and a higher likelihood of being admitted to an intensive care unit. Smokers are also at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and/or death after surgery.
Quitting Smoking Before Surgery
Quitting before surgery is advisable. While quitting for good would be ideal, stopping for even two weeks before and after surgery can dramatically reduce your risks and encourage a smoother breast surgery recovery.
Tools for Helping You Kick the Habit
While some people are able to quit cold turkey, others need help. Many smoking cessation aids are available today.
Nicotine replacement products can help relieve the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal by allowing you to receive gradually decreasing amounts of nicotine without all of the other chemicals in tobacco. These products include over-the-counter patches, gums and lozenges as well as prescription nasal sprays and inhalers.
Nicotine replacement products cannot be used immediately prior to or during your procedure because the nicotine they contain poses some of the same risks as cigarettes. Tell your surgeon if you are using any nicotine replacement aids.
In addition to nicotine replacement products, prescription drugs are also available to help smokers quit. Bupropion (sold under the brand names Wellbutrin and Zyban and also used to treat depression) is believed to lessen the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Varenicline tartrate (Chantix) targets nicotine receptors in the brain, preventing the nicotine from reaching them. Doctors typically advise their patients to begin using Chantix a week before they plan to quit smoking; this should be factored in to your plan if you decide to try the drug.
Other tools to help you quit include hypnotherapy and acupuncture as well as community and online support groups. If you are a smoker, be sure to discuss all your options along with their risks and benefits during your initial consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Start your search for the right surgeon now.
In addition to information on breast augmentation risk and recovery factors, Breast Implants 4 You offers resources on a variety of other issues that can help you in your decision-making process, including pages on breast lift risk and breast augmentation risk. In addition, please be sure to visit our breast augmentation before and after photo gallery.