Are E-Cigarettes Safe Before Surgery?
2014 has come to a close, and the exploding popularity of e-cigarettes has earned the trend a year-end honor: Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is “vape.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Vape originated as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. The verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.’”
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are plugged as a tobacco alternative and can be an effective smoking cessation device, but “vaping” has rapidly become a culture of its own. It’s assumed e-cigarettes are less hazardous to our health than traditional cigarettes, but in fact the risks are still largely unknown.
So, how does vaping compare to traditional smoking when it comes to cosmetic surgery?
Ditching Cigarettes Before a Procedure
It’s not a secret that cigarettes have no place in a healthy, active lifestyle. But did you know that smoking also negatively impacts plastic surgery results? Most cosmetic surgeons require patients to stop smoking at least six weeks before and after having any procedure. It’s so important to good outcomes that we even test our patients for nicotine before proceeding with surgery.
The biggest risk with smoking before surgery comes from the nicotine content. Nicotine is a chemical stimulant that can contribute to increased health complications before, during, and after surgery. Smoking increases your risk for:
- Decreased circulation, which causes blood vessels to constrict and prevent blood from flowing freely—the opposite of what patients need to heal properly after surgery. A surgical site with poor blood flow won’t heal as effectively, and the healing process will take significantly longer.
- Decreased oxygen in the blood caused by the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke. This makes it more difficult for your heart and body to get the oxygen they need, which can create complications with your breathing during surgery.
- Reducing efficacy of or negatively interacting with other medications in your system, which can affect your pain management and healing.
For those looking to quit smoking before cosmetic surgery, electronic cigarettes may seem like the perfect tool. But don’t trade your cigarettes for vaping just yet.
Vaping Before Surgery: The Verdict
With the booming popularity of e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco, many patients are wondering if they are safe to use prior to surgery. The answer is no.
Although they do not contain tobacco or produce cigarette smoke, e-cigarettes do use a liquid (e-liquid) that contains nicotine, which is inhaled in the form of an aerosol. In addition to nicotine, e-liquids usually contain propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavorings. Vaping is a safer alternative to burning and inhaling tobacco, but you are still taking in comparable levels of nicotine.
Because nicotine can affect your body’s ability to heal, increase risk of blood clots, and react with medications, e-cigarettes are just as harmful as traditional cigarettes when it comes to cosmetic surgery.
Dr. Pancholi places patient care and safety at the top of his priority list and will not perform surgery on patients who smoke cigarettes, vape with e-cigarettes, or use products that contain nicotine (including gum and patches). If you’ve been considering cosmetic surgery, you’ll want to have great results; therefore we urge you to commit to a cessation plan before scheduling your procedure. If you need help, physician-assisted programs are available.