Cigarette with Cigarette Smoke - Cigarette smoking affects healing

The Effects of Cigarettes on Healing

Smoking cessation for many weeks prior to and after surgery is essential to maximize healing and reduce the risks associated with poor wound healing. The components of cigarettes that affect healing include nicotine, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide. Seek a fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon if you have questions or concerns about your face or neck.

Nicotine Constricts Blood Vessels and Encourages Blood Clots

Present not only in cigarettes but also liquid vaping products, cigars, smokeless tobacco products, and hookah tobacco, this highly addictive substance acts on tissue in two ways. First, nicotine constricts small blood vessels, restricting the flow of oxygen and nutrients to healing tissue. Second, nicotine encourages blood to clot, which also serves to restrict blood flow to healing tissue. We counsel patients to avoid all nicotine-containing products, not just cigarettes, peri-operatively.

Carbon Monoxide Reduces the Ability of Blood to Carry Oxygen and Release It to Tissues

Carbon monoxide, a well-known poison that is released from fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ranges, and furnaces in homes, is also present in cigarette tobacco. Carbon monoxide acts to impair healing in two ways. First, carbon monoxide reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen to tissue by replacing oxygen in the hemoglobin contained in blood. Second, carbon monoxide reduces the ability of blood to release oxygen to tissue due to the changes that occur to the hemoglobin in blood when carbon monoxide binds to it.

Hydrogen Cyanide is a Poison that Prevents Cells from Utilizing Oxygen

Originally used as a chemical weapon, hydrogen cyanide is present not only in cigarettes but also in pesticides, fumigants, and plastics. Hydrogen cyanide is a poison that stops the ability of cells to utilize oxygen delivered to it by the blood. This results in cell death and, as a result, poor healing.

The Effects of Nicotine, Carbon Monoxide, and Hydrogen Cyanide are to Impair Healing and Increase the Risk of Infection

The risk of infection and abnormal scarring increase significantly with smoking. The risk of poor tissue perfusion to the skin also increases, potentially leading to loss of skin after facial plastic surgery procedures, including facelifts, neck lifts, nose surgery, and eyelid surgery.

Trust Your Face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon

It is important to seek a fellowship-trained specialist in plastic surgery of the face and neck when you have concerns about your face or neck.

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Request a consultation with Dr. Harmon at Harmon Facial Plastic Surgery in Cincinnati. Visit our clinic. You will learn more about Dr. Harmon’s credentials, style, and approach. Build a relationship with our dedicated team. Do not stop at searching “plastic surgery near me.” Get in touch with us to learn more!

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