Any patient considering facial rejuvenation surgery should stop smoking well in advance of their facelift procedure as well as during the recovery process. Smoking – or any product that releases nicotine into the body, such as gum or patches – has been proven to increase the risk of developing serious complications. In fact, your surgeon should refuse to perform a facelift if you are unable to stop smoking prior to your procedure.

Smoking and the healing process

The invasive nature of a facelift, including the lifting and repositioning of deep facial tissues, mean that blood supply to those tissues will be affected. Optimal blood supply is therefore needed for healing, but nicotine causes the blood vessels to contract, meaning less oxygenated blood reaches the area. Scars may not heal as well and, in some cases, the tissues and skin can die off in a process called necrosis.

It’s not just a case of not smoking after your procedure. Nicotine remains in your system for at least ten days which is why I advise all patients to stop smoking at least x weeks prior to their procedure.

Smoking and surgery

Smoking doesn’t just cause potential problems with wound healing. It can also affect how you react to anaesthetic and pain relief. A study presented last year at the European Society of Anaesthesiology showed that smokers needed more anaesthetic during their operation (33% more than non-smokers) and 23% more pain medication to achieve the same degree of relief.

The Royal College of Anaesthetists advise you stop smoking for several weeks before undergoing surgery to reduce the risk of breathing problems. Further risks include:

  • a high risk of lung or heart complications
  • higher risk of infections developing
  • more chance of being admitted to ICU, being readmitted to hospital, remaining in hospital for longer or dying in hospital

Smoking and ageing

Another reason why you should consider quitting for good, is the damage caused by smoking to your skin. Your blood vessels contract, decreasing the amount of oxygen and valuable nutrients reaching your skin, causing premature ageing. The chemicals in cigarettes release free radicals that cause oxidative damage in the body, breaking down collagen and elastin which give skin its structure and support.

Smoking decreases red cell production which is why a healthy glow to the skin can be lacking. Also, the action of smoking causes a particular type of lines, called dynamic wrinkles, to form around the mouth, often known as cigarette lines.

If you’re investing many thousands of pounds in your face you want to protect your investment in the future.

For more advice on how to prepare your facelift procedure, book a consultation with Mr Afshin Yousefpour at either his Sheffield or Brussels cosmetic surgery clinics by calling 0114 266 1133.

Facial Plastic Surgeon