Stop Smoking Before Cosmetic Surgery

As part of the process we undertake at Australian Medical Travel when facilitating medical travel for cosmetic or plastic surgery abroad, we hold initial consultation and information sessions with all of our patents.

At this time, we will always advise any smokers who are contemplating surgery that they need to cease smoking for at least four weeks before the procedure (we would, of course, recommend that you give up completely, but we understand that this isn’t always possible). It is equally as important to refrain from smoking for at least four weeks after your surgery as well (again, giving up altogether is more desirable).

This is more than just a recommendation, however — it may be the case that your cosmetic surgeon, in consultation with the anaesthetist, may be unwilling to perform your cosmetic surgery if you have been unable to stop smoking before your operation due to the potential risks that surgery poses for smokers. Your surgeon will discuss this with you in greater detail at your pre-operation meeting.

The benefits of stop smoking before surgery

We are often asked why it is so important to give up smoking (either temporarily or permanently) before you undergo plastic surgery or any other type of surgical procedure.

Essentially, smoking increases the chances of complications occurring during surgery and can impact negatively on your post-surgery recovery.

For instance, smokers often require a higher dose of anaesthesia during surgery and, as a result of having less oxygenated blood, will often need oxygen therapy afterwards.

It has also been found that there are many more potential risks for smokers after undergoing surgery, such as a higher risk of lung and heart complications and post-operative infection. It is also generally the case that longer hospital stays and higher drug doses are required for smokers.

The potential risks are greater with particular types of surgery and, as the Royal College of Anaesthetists in the UK has noted, they are especially acute for patients undergoing breast surgery.

For women who are undergoing a breast augmentation, for instance, smoking can increase the chances of capsular contracture occurring after the procedure, which is when the scar capsule tightens and compresses the implant, creating a feeling that the breast is firmer than it should be and causing pain and discomfort.

It may also be the case that smokers find that incisions take longer to heal, and this can therefore result in more marked scarring, or scars that take longer to fade.

E-cigarettes and vaping

While the federal and state governments in Australia have the same attitude towards e-cigarettes and vaping as they do towards tobacco use, other jurisdictions take a more enlightened view and consider vaping and the e-cigarettes not only as a very useful aid in helping people to quit smoking, but also as posing significantly fewer heath risks.

Public Health England, for instance, in a report issued in March 2018, has found that there is considerable evidence that the use of e-cigarettes have contributed to a decline in smoking rates.  In terms of the health risks posed by vaping, the same report found concluded that, “the cancer potencies of e-cigarettes were largely under 0.5% of the risk of smoking” and that the, “[c]omparative risks of cardiovascular disease and lung disease have not been quantified but are likely to be also substantially below the risks of smoking.”

Given this evidence from the UK, and similar research conducted in New Zealand, it appears that Australian legislators are taking a very blinkered approach to the acceptance of e-cigarettes, in particular, the use of nicotine in vaping, which seems at odds with their stated desire to reduce smoking rates.

Nevertheless, for anyone considering cosmetic or plastic surgery, but who finds the prospect of giving up smoking too daunting, vaping and e-cigarettes may offer a healthier alternative.

Help to stop smoking in Australia

For Australians looking for help and advice on how to quit smoking, the Quitline website is a source of useful information, or you call the Quitline on 13 78 48 for confidential advice.

Get in touch with us to discuss medical travel and cosmetic surgery

Get in touch with Australian Medical Travel to arrange a free cosmetic surgery assessment and speak to us about the range of options that are available for plastic surgery tourism packages.

Call us on 1300 787 268 or email us to find out more about the range of medical travel packages wearrange for people across Australia.

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