As our understanding of public health issues increases, our understanding of the risks associated with smoking has increased as well. Our new understanding has lead to major public policy changes in the country, including Chicago’s 2008 smoking ban. Everyone knows that smoking is dangerous and can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. What many potential tummy tuck patients don’t know is that dangers of smoking, however, go well beyond just the lungs, or heart. Smoking can actually make it more difficult for you to recover from a tummy tuck.

Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is one of the most popular forms of plastic surgery in the United States. Millions of successful tummy tuck procedures are performed every year. Patients with a smoking habit find that their experience is not always ideal.

Smoking complicates tummy tuck surgery in three ways:

  • Vasoconstriction. Smoking causes a condition known as vasoconstriction, which reduces the blood flow just under the skin’s surface. Vasoconstriction narrows the blood vessels, resulting in a reduction of oxygen to injured areas of the skin. This will cause a wound to widen and heal in a misshapen manner. This condition can also cause serious problems with recovery from tummy tuck because it significantly slows the healing rate of open wounds
  • Skin Necrosis. In extreme situations, skin with the least connection to oxygen because of restricted blood vessels can begin to die, a condition known as skin necrosis. This is an extremely serious problem that can lead to gangrene
  • Coughing can cause patients to inadvertently cause damage to the abdominal wall. Because smokers have a tendency to cough more after surgery, this is a serious concern for recovery time.

Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Otto Placik asks patients to stop smoking at least four weeks prior to any plastic surgery procedure, including tummy tuck. Undergoing a tummy tuck might also be a great time to make other healthy lifestyle choices, so patients are encouraged to quit smoking entirely prior to the procedure. Patients are strongly encouraged not to smoke again until they are completely recovered because even a little reduction in oxygen to the wound site is a cause for concern.

If you are considering a tummy tuck and want to know more how smoking impacts the procedure, please contact Dr. Otto Placik at Chicago’s Associated Plastic Surgeons, S.C. today schedule a consultation.