Smokers take longer to heal after having surgery than nonsmokers do -- which is an especially serious problem for people who have plastic surgery.
The term "plastic surgery" refers to operations that reshape a part of the body. For example, a person might have plastic surgery to fix an abnormally shaped ear or to improve the appearance of a bad scar or birthmark. Cosmetic procedures such as "nose jobs" are also a type of plastic surgery.
Smokers take longer to heal after having surgery than nonsmokers do. Smoking causes several different changes in your body that interfere with healing, including the following:
Smoking causes blood vessels to tighten up, and this decreases the flow of blood to the healing area. With less blood, it's harder for damaged tissues to get the nutrients and oxygen they need to heal properly.
Smoking decreases the level of oxygen in the blood. Healing tissues need plenty of oxygen, but they don't get it if you're a smoker.
Smoking decreases the formation of collagen -- a kind of connective tissue that is needed for a wound to heal properly.
Smoking increases the level of hydrogen cyanide in the bloodstream, and this makes it harder for chemicals in the body to transport oxygen from cell to cell -- an action that is necessary for healing.
Because of poor healing, smokers are much more likely than nonsmokers to have poor results from plastic surgery. In fact, doctors sometimes recommend that people who smoke shouldn't have certain types of plastic surgery at all because it's so likely that the operation will turn out badly.