Mr Nigel Horlock

Consultant Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

New research into risks of smoking and cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery has become extremely popular in today’s society, helping patients to alter or enhance practically any aspect of their appearance. However, as more people choose to go under the knife, it’s become more important than ever before to look into what makes an ideal candidate for surgery.

Did you know that certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, for example, can impact the success of cosmetic surgery? While it is widely known that surgeons do ask patients to stop smoking prior to their procedure, few people actually know why. Now, new research has been carried out to determine the risks of smoking and cosmetic surgery. Here, we’ll look at what the research revealed, and the risks smoking presents when you go under the knife.

What did the research reveal?

The results of the new research, published within the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in January 2019, revealed that smokers were more likely to experience complications after surgery. Researchers analysed data from 129,007 patients, with just 8.2% of patients claiming to be smokers.

They discovered that smokers were at an increased risk of developing major complications. Those having body procedures, such as buttock augmentation and abdominoplasty procedures, experienced a complication rate of 2.9%, which is slightly higher than the 1.9% risk for non-smokers. The most significant risks identified were in smokers who underwent thigh lifts, with a major complication risk of 23.8% compared to just a 3.6% risk for non-smokers.

It was also revealed that smoking increased the risk of infections in the wound by a staggering 61%. Interestingly, there wasn’t an increased risk identified in smokers undergoing breast or facial cosmetic procedures.

Understanding nicotine and tissue necrosis

Surgeons have long known that smoking increases the risk of complications, which is why they always advise patients to stop smoking before and after the procedure. The question is, why does smoking increase the risks?

The main problem smoking can lead to after cosmetic surgery, is tissue necrosis. Although it is rare, smokers do need to be aware of the risks if they don’t quit prior to and after the procedure. It occurs when nicotine reduces, or completely stops, the blood flow to the tissues that were operated on. In the worst-case scenario, this can cause the tissue to die and simply fall off.

Combined procedures should be avoided

The new research also reveals the dangers of smokers undergoing combined procedures. Surgeons are advised to be wary of carrying out combined facial and body procedures on smokers due to the high risks involved. However, more research is required in order to establish better recommendations and to optimise outcomes.

Overall, this new research does confirm that smoking can have a direct impact on the results of a procedure, as well as increasing the risks of complications. Therefore, patients should strongly follow their surgeon’s advice in relation to quitting smoking before the procedure. Even after the procedure, it’s crucial to stop smoking until the wound has completely healed.

For more advice on how best to prepare for a cosmetic surgery procedure, call 02380 914504 to arrange a cosmetic surgery consultation with Mr Horlock.


Mr Horlock's NHS practice is based in the regional plastics unit at Salisbury District Hospital. He covers Salisbury, Southampton and Dorchester. He sees patients in his private practice at Southampton, Salisbury, Dorchester.

CONTACT MR HORLOCK
Spire Southampton Hospital
Chalybeate Close,
Southampton,
Hampshire
S016 6UY
CLINIC APPOINTMENTS: 02380 914 504
Julie Martin: 02380 764 969
info@nigelhorlock.co.uk