Organic food, regular physical exercises, meditation… and a pack of cigarettes per day – a life style that undermines itself, as Abby Ellyn writes in an article in ‘New York Times’.
Don’t be surprised if your plastic surgeon will advise you to give up smoking when you contact him for a facelift. And you know what? It works! It seems that for many female smokers, this motivation is much stronger than any other reason.
According to Dr. Michael Fiore, the manager of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI), 40-45% of smokers all around the world try to give up smoking, but only 5 % succeed.
If other motivations weren’t strong enough, having a new look seems to give positive results, whether it is a facelift, an abdominal liposuction or breast implants.
‘People don’t seem to care much when an internist or a cardiologist advises them to quit smoking because it affects their health.’ says Dr. Alan Gold, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. ‘But when they have a serious health issue, they seem to pay attention to this recommendation.’ Moreover, plastic surgery has very solid objectives that the patients seem to understand and wish for.
What makes the plastic surgeons to refuse an intervention on a smoker?
Nicotine leads to vasospasm and obstruction of blood vessels and thus it reduces the amount of blood at skin level. This slows down the healing; it favors infections, scars and red spots. Besides, smokers risk having breathing difficulties during anesthesia.
Plastic surgeons recommend their patients to quit smoking at least two weeks before the surgery and minimum two weeks before the intervention.
Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal, the chief of the plastic surgery team of Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut, recommends his patients to quit smoking six weeks before having a facelift and six months, even a year before having an abdominal liposuction.
‘Why should we invest so much in a cosmetic procedure if the patient doesn’t lift a finger for having the best result?’ ask Dr. Shirley Madhcre, plastic surgeon in Manhattan.
Nancy Irwin from Los Angeles, specialized in hypnosis, says that 5 – 10% of those who come to her for help in their struggle against smoking, are motivated by a future plastic surgery. ‘They don’t care if they die, but if smoking stands in their way of having breast implants, they take it seriously.’ Are they more concern with their look than with their health?
Off course, this motivation is not always strong enough to determine patients to quit smoking. Some of them hide the truth from their doctor, telling him that they gave up smoking, even though they are still smoking.
While some surgeons live this matter on their clients’ hands, others try to help them by creating a plan: from prescribing pills to psychotherapy, hypnosis and participation to the meetings of a support group. Others try to scare the patient by showing them shocking pictures with infected wounds which are difficult to heal because of smoking.
Other surgeons accept operating them only if their patients sign a document in which they assume the entire responsibility of all postoperative complications in case they didn’t give up smoking. Other surgeons test the level of nicotine in urine and if the test is positive, they don’t operate them.
Plastic surgeries are not the only surgical interventions that impose giving up smoking. Any surgical intervention will have more positive results if the patient is a non-smoker. At least the anesthesia would be safer and the postoperative healing easier.
But time doesn’t always help surgeons. A plastic surgery may be postponed for several weeks or months until the body eliminates the nicotine. Dr. Roger Friedenthal, a plastic surgeon who refuses to operate smokers says that ‘you may advise your patient to give up smoking, but you cannot wait a month to save his life in an open-heart surgery’.