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Learn Why Your Surgeon Won't Do Surgery On You if You Smoke

By: Dr. Rolando Morales


When you schedule a consultation for elective cosmetic surgery at Morales Plastic Surgery in Houston, TX you can expect board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Rolando Morales to ask if you are a smoker. This isn't to pry into your personal life; instead, understanding your smoking habits plays a critical role in determining whether you may be an appropriate candidate for surgery. Here, Dr. Morales discusses the adverse impacts that nicotine use can have on a patient's surgical experience and outcome, as well as important considerations for smokers who are contemplating cosmetic surgery.

Can I have plastic surgery if I smoke?

Patients who are current smokers may not be considered eligible for elective cosmetic surgeries due to the significant risks that nicotine use poses for surgical candidates — particularly when it comes to safety and complications associated with wound healing. Smoking and nicotine use constrict — or suffocate — blood flow, which can delay or even prevent surgical incisions from healing. This can result in serious postsurgical problems, including incisions that do not heal. In some cases, patients may even lose massive pieces of tissue that simply fall off the surgical areas. Infections and more severe complications may follow.

Which cosmetic surgeries are off-limits for smokers?

Each surgical case is carefully evaluated by Dr. Morales, taking into account the patient's overall health, smoking status, the desired procedure, and many other factors. While plastic surgery of any kind is considered more dangerous for patients who smoke, procedures involving skin excision and larger incisions are often deemed riskiest, as nicotine impedes the blood flow necessary to allow for adequate incision closure and healing. These may include facelift surgery, tummy tuck surgery, and others.

Can I still have plastic surgery if I am on nicotine patches?

Nicotine use of any kind can interfere with healing after plastic surgery. Some common forms of nicotine use that may stop you from qualifying for cosmetic surgery include:

  • Smoking
  • Vaping
  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine gum
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke

How can I qualify for plastic surgery if I smoke?

Patients who are interested in cosmetic surgery with a current or past history of smoking will be carefully consulted on their risk factors, and Dr. Morales may classify some patients as ineligible for surgery. In certain cases, patients may be considered for surgery but must commit to not smoking for at least six weeks before their surgery and six weeks after surgery. During these intervals, random testing may be administered to ensure the patient's safety and eligibility. Still, there is no question that abstaining from smoking and nicotine use offers the best possible opportunity to reduce your smoking-related surgical risks and postoperative risks, helping to ensure a safer procedure, smoother recovery, and a more successful outcome. To learn more about the connection between plastic surgery risks and smoking, watch this informative video from Dr. Morales.

Questions about plastic surgery and smoking? Schedule a consultation with our Houston, TX board-certified plastic surgeon to learn more

Patient safety and health are our number one priorities at Morales Plastic Surgery. While we believe that every patient deserves to look and feel their best, we may advise against cosmetic surgery for patients who smoke to avoid the risk of serious complications. To learn more about your options for cosmetic surgery in Houston, TX, call to schedule your private consultation with Dr. Rolando Morales today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.