Smoking and Breast Reconstruction Surgery

It’s estimated that there are currently over 30 million active cigarette smokers in the United States. The general health impact of cigarette smoking has been well established, and issues include elevated risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and COPD. The mass distribution of this information, as well as new smoking-cessation strategies for smokers, has decreased overall cigarette consumption over the last decade. 

It’s important to know that there are multiple issues with cigarette smoking.  There are cancer-causing agents introduced to our lung, and there is also nicotine absorbed into our blood.   Nicotine has a direct impact on the health of our blood vessels.  As reconstructive surgeons, it’s the nicotine absorbed into the blood that concerns us, as this causes issues with healing after surgery.  

The recent trend in smoking behavior is in the form of e-cigarettes or “vaping”.   These e-cigarettes come in multiple forms, some with nicotine and some without.  There is new research emerging that suggests e-cigarettes come with their own spectrum of lung issues.

Its also important to know that nicotine consumption, in any form, whether it be cigarettes, e-cigarettes, gums, patches, or lozenges, still increase the risk of complications with surgery.  For this reason, your plastic surgeon will need to know if you are using any nicotine products.  At your consultation, your plastic surgeon can discuss with you in detail the nicotine-related risks of breast reconstruction, in a way that is tailored specifically to your case. You will be asked to discontinue use of all nicotine products for at least 4-6 weeks prior to your surgery date.  It is possible your surgeon will choose to test your blood or urine for the presence of nicotine.

At Breast Reconstruction Associates, your breast reconstructive specialists in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Oklahoma City, we are here to help you make the best possible decision for your general health and wellbeing, as well as to prepare you for the best possible surgical outcome.