How to Get Healthy for Surgery


Often, plastic surgery is considered purely in cosmetic terms, as though it’s simply about looks and not necessarily physical health. But as with any surgery, there can be significant implications for your physical wellbeing.

How can risks to your health be minimized? And what can you do to ensure you are as healthy as possible before your procedure? There are a few different approaches to consider. For example, new laws in the United Kingdom require patients to stop smoking before they can undergo any sort of cosmetic procedure. Here at Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we similarly make patient safety the top priority.

Watch Dr. Stephan Finical on WBTV Morning Break talk more in-depth about the importance of getting healthy before plastic surgery:

Do I Have to Quit Smoking Before Plastic Surgery?

First, a note about those new laws in the UK. In a controversial new piece of legislation, local health committees (not the entire UK, it’s important to say) have ruled that some individuals are ineligible for plastic surgery due to their lifestyle and habits. Specifically, those who smoke or are obese are banned from non-essential surgery—that is, cosmetic surgery.

Overweight individuals who wish to have cosmetic procedures have a specified time frame in which they must lose weight if they wish for their procedure to go forward; meanwhile, smokers must submit to a breath test, proving that they have been nicotine-free for eight weeks before they can have their surgery done.

To those of us in the States, these rulings may seem a bit extreme. Of course, these UK policymakers are looking at things from a financial standpoint. If someone has plastic surgery and they experience complications—far more likely, among those who are obese or who smoke—it becomes much more expensive for the health system.

It’s an attempt to save money and defray costs, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some merit to these policies. Certainly, nutrition, exercise, and smoking impact overall health and poor health can increase the risk of complications during cosmetic surgery. In order to ensure your safety during a plastic surgery procedure, it is recommended that you adopt certain healthy practices.

 

Do I Have to Lose Weight Before Plastic Surgery?

How is this done? Before plastic surgery, should you lose weight? Kick your nicotine habit? Adopt other healthy lifestyle changes?

At Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we do ask our patients to quit smoking and to get to a healthy body weight before they have surgery. This isn’t about saving money, though; it’s about keeping our patients well. Again, the controversial UK policies have some truth at their core: healthier patients run a much lower risk of complications, so by getting healthy before your procedure you can ensure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible and post-operation complications are significantly minimized.

How Nicotine Sabotages Plastic Surgery

Smoking in particular causes problems for those undergoing any kind of surgery. For one thing, those who smoke are at a much higher risk of pneumonia and other respiratory issues, which means there’s often a lot of coughing following their procedure, which places increased stress on incision sites.

Additionally, nicotine itself has a toxic effect on the body. It restricts blood flow, which means the healing process takes quite a bit longer. For this reason, even those who are on nicotine patches—as opposed to smoking actual cigarettes—face these heightened risks of surgical complications.

 

How to Get Healthy for Plastic Surgery: Some Guidelines

With all of that said, Charlotte Plastic Surgery provides patients with a few key guidelines—steps they can take to make sure they are at their best before having any kind of a plastic surgery procedure.

  • For patients who are under 40, there usually aren’t any major steps that need to be taken or health risks that need to be worked around—though we’ll always listen to their heart and lungs just to be certain.
  • For patients who are between 40 and 60, we usually recommend an EKG and ask for a letter from their doctor, just ensuring there aren’t any underlying health issues that could cause trouble in the recovery process.
  • Those who are over 60 will need to have some lab work done. Further steps may need to be taken to ensure patient safety, just depending on which medication(s) the patient is taking.
  • Women who are above the age of 45 are asked to have a mammogram before they have breast surgery of any kind.
  • With the consent of their primary care physician, all patients are asked to stop taking blood-thinning medications—including aspirin and ibuprofen—for a couple of weeks before their cosmetic surgery.
  • The single most important thing patients can do is to not have anything to eat or drink after midnight, the night before surgery. Coming into the OR on an empty stomach immediately removes much of the risk associated with anesthesia.

Healing from Cosmetic Surgery

 As for the timeframe for recovery, most patients recover within three to seven days, depending on the surgery. The incision sites will usually heal quickly; little aches and pains can last a few days longer. After a month to six weeks, most patients are totally fine to resume all their normal activities, though it depends slightly on which procedure was done.

 

Getting Healthy Before Your Procedure

At Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we want to help our patients look and feel their best and a big part of that is controlling patient safety variables, minimizing the risk of any kind of post-surgical complications.

To a large extent, this can be done through a few simple precautions. On our end, we make sure patients have the needed tests or lab work done to ensure a clean bill of health. For patients, we recommend adopting some healthy lifestyle changes—and yes, losing weight and quitting nicotine can both be critical here.

Before you come in for cosmetic surgery of any kind, make sure you speak with your doctor about steps you can take to ensure a smooth and safe process. To learn more, contact Charlotte Plastic Surgery today.