Each year on the third Sunday of November, the American Cancer Society celebrates the Great American Smokeout: a 24-hour challenge in which participants stop smoking and start changing their lives. The hope is that those who can make it through the first 24 hours will be encouraged to make their smoking cessation more permanent, a smart health decision at any time.
For potential breast augmentation patients, quitting cigarettes is of even greater importance than for other individuals, because any surgery puts smokers at greater risk than those who are smoke-free. Here are six reasons women should stop smoking before considering breast implants.
1. Nicotine Is a Vasoconstrictor
Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco and the addictive chemical that makes smoking so hard for many patients to quit, decreases blood flow to the body's tissues. Chemical vasoconstrictors like nicotine result in an increase in systemic blood pressure and localized reductions of blood flow throughout the body. Any surgical incision also restricts blood flow, so combining surgical incisions with potentially dangerous vasoconstrictors like nicotine can put the delicate tissues of the breast at significant risk during surgery.
2. Smoking Increases Carbon Monoxide in the Bloodstream
Carbon monoxide, a clear odorless gas that results from burning any carbon-based substance, is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream each time a smoker lights up. Increased levels of carbon monoxide in the blood are one of the major contributing factors to higher levels of cardiovascular disease in smokers. In addition, increased carbon monoxide levels in the blood have a corresponding negative effect on blood oxygen levels, a one-two punch of risky business for any breast augmentation patient. Women should kick the habit well before their consultation to guarantee the safest possible surgery and recovery.
3. Smokers Have Higher Risks of Anesthesia Complications
All smokers are at greater risk from anesthesia complications during surgery, not just breast augmentation patients. Anesthesiologists strongly recommend that patients be smoke-free before undergoing any significant surgery in order to decrease the risk of dangerous complications affecting the heart and lungs. Smokers may require special considerations and treatments when undergoing surgery in order to lessen anesthetic risks and potential recovery complications.
4. Smoking Breaks Down Collagen
Collagen is hugely important to the structural proteins and supportive tissues within the skin. To keep skin looking as youthful as possible, smokers should quit in order to slow the loss of collagen in breast tissue and throughout the body. Without cigarettes, collagen is lost at a rate of approximately one percent per year, but in smokers this process happens much more quickly. To get the most beautiful breast augmentation results as well as ensure the longest-lasting youthful décolletage, it's important to quit cigarettes as soon as possible.
5. Higher Rates of Capsular Contracture
As discussed above, smoking decreases oxygen levels in the blood. With lower oxygen levels, healing may take longer, and inflammation becomes a significant concern. Either of these situations can lead to higher rates of capsular contracture after breast augmentation, the abnormal development of excess scar tissue growth around implants that could require surgery to correct.
6. Everyone Should Quit
Whether breast augmentation is a consideration or not, everyone should quit smoking. The facts are irrefutable, and the health risks for smokers are significant and costly. Regardless of what surgeries may be on the menu, being smoke-free is the first step to the safest and most complication-free results.