Do I Need To Quit Smoking Before My Tummy Tuck Procedure?

When patients are preparing to undergo a tummy tuck surgery, (or an abdominoplasty) to remove excess abdominal fat and loose skin, certain lifestyle changes may be necessary to ensure that the treatment process is safe and successful. A common question regarding such alterations in lifestyle is asked by patients who are habitual smokers, and that is, “Do I need to quit smoking before my tummy tuck procedure?”

The short answer to this question is yes, it is necessary for a patient who smokes cigarettes or uses nicotine products to stop for a period before and after the abdominoplasty.

During a tummy tuck procedure, the plastic surgeon will detach the skin and fat on the abdomen from the underlying abdominal muscles, leading to the removal of arteries and veins that pass from muscle to skin in this area. This results in a significant reduction of blood supply which is normally delivered to the abdominal skin. In a healthy and non-smoking patient, this decrease in blood delivery does not affect the health of the abdominal skin as it is still able to receive adequate amounts of blood from small, intact blood vessels of the back and sides of the body. However, in an individual with smoking habits and exposure to high concentrations of nicotine, reduced blood flow can be problematic.

For a reason that is currently unknown to experts, the blood vessels of the body have a natural receptor for nicotine molecules. When these receptors are stimulated by the presence of nicotine in the bloodstream, it causes a constriction of blood vessels in size and ultimately leads to decreased blood flow to intended areas. When in combination with a tummy tuck surgery, the reduced blood supply is too severe for the body to maintain the abdominal skin in a healthy state and this can lead to large incision areas that don’t heal normally, or even tissue death. Additional surgeries are then required to remove the dead skin. These types of secondary surgeries often lead to severe scarring and deformity that could be avoided by simply eliminating nicotine from the body and bloodstream.

Because we know the dangers of smoking before and after a tummy tuck procedure, it is imperative for someone preparing to undergo an abdominoplasty to quit smoking at least four weeks before the surgery date and to remain smoke-free for four weeks post-surgery.

Quitting smoking for a frequent user can be very difficult. Patients are encouraged to use smoking cessation products for the duration of the treatment protocol to smoothly transition away from smoking (eg nicotine patches, nicotine gum, Zyban (Wellbutrin), and Chantix).

If there are any other questions or concerns regarding this change in lifestyle, please feel free to schedule an appointment with a member of our team for clarification and medical advice.




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