This month, a new study published in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, looked at the risks of flap necrosis due to smoking, trying to scientifically determine the right amount of time needed for a patient to quit smoking prior to surgery. The investigators used an animal model, with a standardized design of skin flap, and had various smoke-free intervals prior to skin flap surgery, keeping track of the amount of skin necrosis in each group.
1) Even at 8 weeks smoke-free prior to surgery, the ex-smokers had bigger zones of flap necrosis (=bad!) than the non-smoking control group.
2) Increasing duration of being smoke-free was significantly correlated with decreased amounts of flap necrosis. In other words, the group that was smoke-free for only 2 weeks did worse than the group that was smoke-free for 8 weeks.
Take home message: Please don’t smoke for at least 8 weeks before your tummy tuck, facelift, or breast lift surgery. If you smoke and have a wound healing complication, you really have no one to blame but yourself. It’s wiser to postpone your surgery if you can’t quit.