While smoking is detrimental to a person’s health for a number of reasons, it is poses particular problems for patients undergoing surgery. Nicotine, whether from cigarettes, patches, gum, etc., causes vasoconstriction in the small vessels that we count on to heal newly created wounds. This is especially true in certain procedures where the normal blood supply is disrupted and the tissues are tightened at the time of closure, such as with a facelift, abdominoplasty, breast lift, breast reduction, and breast reconstruction.
We feel strongly that in certain cases the risk of significant wound healing problems outweighs any benefit we would provide with the procedure. In these types of cases, we will decline to do the operation unless our patient is nicotine free. This does not apply to all procedures we perform, so be sure to ask us when this rule applies.
Some patients may choose to go elsewhere for their surgery because of our caution on this issue. While surgery on patients that use nicotine products can be successful in some cases, we feel the risks of a bad outcome are unacceptably high.