It’s a common concern for smokers who recently underwent a nose job, and the answer likely isn’t one they want to hear, but yes, smoking does have an effect on rhinoplasty results. Smoking effects the results of all surgeries, but is particularly bad for cosmetic surgeries, and even worse for nose surgeries. Here’s why.
How Nicotine Affects Recovery
Nicotine messes with the body’s adrenal system, causing a release of both stimulating, concentration-enhancing hormones, like norepinephrine, and hormones that reduce anxiety and pain, like endorphins.
All these hormones sound desirable, especially when you’re recovering from surgery. But many of them are terrible for recovery. Norepinephrine constricts the blood vessels, making it harder for blood to reach the tissues. This causes damage to the skin and healing of incisions in particular. The nose is an end organ, not having multiple blood supplies , and is even more choked when you smoke.
This is a major problem when it comes to surgery. Blood flow is needed to clean out inflammation, as well as to support healing. If blood is constricted, it is more likely that protein chains will bunch up, creating ugly raised scars instead of faded flat ones. Smoking will, without fail, make your rhinoplasty scars more noticeable. But that’s not the only problem.
Nicotine Withdrawal and Rhinoplasty
Nicotine causes lasting problems, even after you quit. The daily release of norepinephrine slowly causes arteries to constrict, leading to higher lasting blood pressure and decreased healing. These effects are most severe within the first few weeks after you quit smoking.
The withdrawal of endorphins also creates increased pain and anxiety, for about a week. These make your recovery much more unpleasant. In addition, they create stress, which slows the body’s recovery process.
As a result, you want to be neither on nicotine nor in early nicotine withdrawal when you go in for surgery. For best results, you should quit smoking eight weeks before your rhinoplasty. This time will give your body a chance to loosen up the arteries, bring down blood pressure, and deal with the stress of withdrawal.
Quitting Smoking Before Surgery
Unfortunately, nicotine itself is the biggest problem, so moving to a patch will only help a little. If you need the patch to quit, start the process of quitting a few months before your surgery, so that you can go completely cold turkey eight weeks before.
Quitting smoking is a healthy decision, both for your recovery and for your life. When you start your new life after your rhinoplasty, you may find you are lucky to have kicked smoking and to have healthier, more natural skin.