Smoking and surgery: a cautionary tale

A post from a Michigan-based cosmetic surgeon about a recent procedure caused no end of consternation across the blogosphere recently, and it’s worth discussing here. Although the story is extreme to say the least, we have absolutely no reason to doubt the surgeon, Dr Anthony Youn – and the advice he offers about smoking and cosmeticosmetic surgery and smokingc surgery is dead on, because these two things don’t mix at all.

Stub it out as soon as possible

If you want to read his post, it’s right here. But be warned: it’s not exactly for the squeamish. Whether you read it or not, it’s something we need to talk about. We all know the dangers brought on by a smoking habit – so we need not go into that here – so let’s discuss smoking and cosmetic procedures.

Any professional and reputable cosmetic clinic will want to know if you smoke, and for good reason: smoking, and the nicotine content in smoking in particular, restricts the blood supply. This can cause no end of health problems in the long term, but also bring their own particular issues during surgery – a time when the affected area of the body needs all the blood supply it can get. Certain procedures are more dependent on a correct and unhindered blood supply than others: the age of the client plays an important part too.

Give your procedure the best chance possible

But no matter the procedure, and no matter how old you are, it is the responsibility of the surgeon to  inform you of the risks of smoking immediately before and after a procedure, and in many cases set a date when there is to be no smoking whatsoever. As Doctor Youn points out in his blog post; “The nicotine in cigarettes and the carbon monoxide contained in cigarette smoke can diminish blood flow to various parts of the body. These toxins act as a virtual tourniquet. If the blood flow to a particular body part becomes greatly reduced or halted, that body part dies.” So think hard about your lifestyle choices before you embark on a procedure.

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