We all know that smoking and excessive drinking are bad for your health, but unfortunately, they can be hard habits to break. Aside from the health consequences we all know about, however, there are many other negative effects that smoking and drinking have on people who are considering facial plastic surgery, particularly rhinoplasty. No reputable plastic surgeon will operate on a patient who has been smoking within several weeks of the surgery due to safety risks, but they must often rely on the patient’s word in these cases. The same goes for post-operative recovery: smoking and alcohol can have a significant negative impact on the results of the procedure by affecting healing and can make complications more likely.
So how do smoking and drinking affect rhinoplasty recovery?
The Effects of Smoking
Smokers are at a much higher risk for death and major complications during and after the surgery itself. Rhinoplasty is a very safe procedure for healthy patients, but smokers are at an increased risk for cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, and complications from anesthesia. Smoking exacerbates inflammation and decreases white blood cell numbers, which greatly increases these risks.
The effects of smoking don’t just apply to the surgery itself. Smoking introduces nicotine and carbon monoxide to the bloodstream, which narrow the blood vessels and reduce circulation, preventing oxygen from making its way efficiently through the body. This leads to prolonged, poor healing, which can result in increased swelling, skin necrosis, and infection. Increased scar tissue is also a risk smokers assume during rhinoplasty recovery—something that can change the overall look of the nose following the recovery period. You can choose the greatest surgeon in the world, but poor healing from smoking could easily ruin your results.
The Effects of Drinking
While not quite as dangerous as smoking following surgery, alcohol consumption in the few days before surgery and during the recovery period can be quite dangerous and affect healing for a number of reasons. Alcohol increases swelling, something that already happens naturally following rhinoplasty surgery. Drinking also increases prolonged bleeding risk, prolonging the recovery and introducing potential complications. Finally, alcohol can interact with some medications following surgery, so it’s important for patients to follow surgeon guidelines on alcohol use to avoid the safety risks and even potential reduced effectiveness of pain medications.
Using Rhinoplasty as Motivation to Quit Smoking
Have you had trouble quitting smoking in the past? Maybe the long-term effects on your overall health weren’t enough to compel you to quit, but some people find that rhinoplasty is the motivation they need to make a successful attempt to kick the habit. Rhinoplasty is expensive and involves a certain amount of inconvenience, discomfort, and recovery, but the results are well worth the effort—much like quitting smoking.
Patients must be smoke-free for several months or weeks before surgery, to cut down on the surgical risks and help avoid complications with healing. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for patients to switch to e-cigarettes during the healing period to help cut back on risks. These devices still contain nicotine and other chemicals that pose safety risks and can interfere significantly with healing.
As a patient, you do have a few responsibilities to help set you up for a safe and successful procedure. Your first responsibility is to choose a skilled facial plastic surgeon to perform your procedure. Rhinoplasty is an extremely difficult and complex procedure, and only a specialist has the experience, artistry, and skill to give a wide range of patients consistently good results. The best way to select your surgeon is to do meticulous research followed by consultations with your top prospects. These meetings give you a chance to ask questions and get to know prospective surgeons.
Once you’ve chosen a surgeon you can trust, your next responsibility is taking care of yourself properly before and after surgery. You will be given specific instructions on pre and post-operative care, which you should follow as closely as you can to promote good results. If you choose the right surgeon for you and ensure proper care, you have a very good chance of a successful result.
If you would like to discuss your goals for surgery with a renowned expert, come to the Naderi Center for Facial Plastic Surgery and meet with the nose expert, Dr. Shervin Naderi, a leader in the field of rhinoplasty. Dr. Naderi is a focused specialist, with rhinoplasty making up the vast majority of his practice. To learn more and to schedule a consultation in Reston, VA (703-481-0002) or Chevy Chase, MD (301-222-2020), call either location today.