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Does smoking affect facial cosmetic surgery?

Posted: 10:35 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013

By Anita Mandal, M.D.
Question: I have been a smoker for 40 years. I am interested in having surgery for my sagging jowls and baggy eyelids. Is it safe for a smoker to have cosmetic surgery?

Answer: While it’s true that cigarette smoking can increase the risk of poor wound healing, a smoking history alone is not an absolute contraindication to having facial cosmetic surgery.
There are many factors that must be considered, including:

  • The facial area being operated on
  • The type of operation
  • When one stopped smoking and/or how much they smoke
  • The impact of one’s other medical problems
  • The quality of one’s facial tissues
  • Our intrinsic ability to heal

For example, a patient who is completely healthy other than a being a smoker can be at lower risk than one who has multiple heart and kidneys problems. A patient undergoing an eyelid lift, because its a smaller surgical area, is at lower risk than someone having facelift surgery. Genetically, some heavy smokers still heal better than other non-smokers.

The impact that cigarette smoking has on the surgical result varies and depends on each patient’s unique history and genetics. Your facial plastic surgeon must take many variables into consideration prior to assessing the overall risks of surgery. A history of cigarette smoking, in and of itself, should not be the primary factor impacting one’s decision about cosmetic surgery.


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