Quitting Smoking & Vaping Before Plastic Surgery

If you plan on having plastic surgery or have started reading up on having breast augmentation or tummy tuck, you may have seen that you should stop using products with nicotine at least a month before the procedure. While we all know smoking is bad for your health, why is it absolutely necessary to cease all nicotine, even vaping? Our Raleigh plastic surgeon is providing a closer look at how nicotine can negatively affect your plastic surgery results along with your health.

The One Complication Nicotine Causes After Plastic Surgery

If you smoke or vape and you’ve already had a surgery, like an appendectomy, and you didn’t have any complications or concerns, you may think, “What’s the big deal?” It’s important to remember that cosmetic procedures are performed much differently than most medical surgeries.

The leading concern about nicotine with plastic surgery is tissue necrosis – an irreversible premature death of living body tissue that occurs when blood doesn’t flow to the area. During plastic surgery procedures, the surgeon often makes lateral incisions to allow for more effective and accurate repositioning of the tissue, allowing implants to be placed or tissue to be removed. This method severs the end of blood vessels something that is not in other surgeries like an appendectomy or knee surgery. While this is generally safe, it’s only safe when the blood vessels are healthy.

This is where nicotine comes in. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, limiting blood flow and cutting off circulation to tissue. Couple this with already limited vessels, and the area around the incision can be left without proper blood flow to the area, leading to tissue necrosis.

When tissue necrosis takes place, it must be removed, meaning you could lose a portion of skin and other tissues around the incision site, and if implants were placed, they’ll need to be removed, too.

Other Complications Caused By Nicotine

While tissue necrosis is bad enough, smoking, vaping, and nicotine products can lead to other complications following plastic surgery, including:

  • Blood clots as nicotine affects circulation
  • Infection
  • Delayed or prolonged healing
  • Fat necrosis which causes hard lumps under the skin
  • Permanent blood vessel damage
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart attack

How to Quit Smoking Before Your Plastic Surgery


It’s recommended that you quit smoking, vaping, and using all nicotine products between three and six weeks before your procedure, and you should continue to abstain for up to six weeks after the procedure (though preferably permanently). This means no cigarettes, nicotine gum, patches, and even vaping or e-cigarettes are off the table as they do contain nicotine.

We understand that it’s hard to quit vaping and smoking or using nicotine – it’s a highly addictive substance. Here are some tips that can help you stop:

  • Put a picture of your inspiration for wanting to have plastic surgery done. Look at it anytime you feel a craving to smoke or vape.
  • Avoid “triggers.” For example, if you usually smoke while drinking alcohol, abstain from drinking. If you crave a cigarette while you drive, keep gum or candy in the car.
  • Stay busy with hobbies, chores, or activities that keep your mind off smoking.
  • Spend time in vape and smoke-free zones, like going window shopping, seeing a movie, or spending time with non-smoking friends or loved ones.
  • Download the QuitStart App to help monitor your progress, manage cravings, get tips, and other tools to help.
  • Discuss non-nicotine prescription medications with your doctor to help you quit.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Plastic Surgeon in Raleigh Today

If you’re ready to experience confidence and fall in love with the way you look, we can help. When you schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Ortiz, he will sit down with you and discuss your goals, provide insight into the procedure and what you can expect your results to be, and also, set a timeline to quit smoking so you have time before your procedure. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call us at 919-532-2270 or fill out the form below to get started!