Why vaping before plastic surgery is probably not the best idea

Dec 5, 2016 at 11:16 a.m. ET
Image: Amesy/Getty Images

If you’re thinking about getting plastic surgery, you might want to put down that e-cigarette — at least for the month prior to your procedure.

Writing in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, two New York City-based plastic surgeons explained that at this stage, we don’t yet know if smoking e-cigarettes prior to surgery has the same negative effects as regular cigarettes. So for the time being, they advise against pre-surgery vaping.

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The doctors’ concern stems from the fact that patients who smoke traditional cigarettes are more likely to have a failure with skin flaps used in a lot of reconstructive surgeries. In those cases, the nicotine — which is also found in e-cigarettes — is thought to be the main culprit. Although vaping might not involve other compounds found in cigarette smoke that affect blood flow, they may contain other possibly toxic substances in their vapor.

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The plastic surgeons are getting this idea from a previous study of general surgery patients in which participants who quit smoking three or four weeks ahead of surgery were able to reduce their rate of complications from around 40 to 20 percent. Right now, the authors admit that there is no direct evidence that nicotine in e-cigarettes also increases the risk of blood-flow complications. But as long as you’re going to have plastic surgery to change something about yourself, you might as well try to make it go as well as possible. Better safe than sorry.

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