Plastic surgery patients should avoid smoking e-cigarettes for at least four weeks before their procedures, two plastic surgeons advise.
Patients who smoke are believed to face a higher risk of skin flap failure, apparently because nicotine reduces blood flow, the surgeons said.
“Based on our current best knowledge, it seems reasonable to advise plastic surgery candidates to cease e-cigarette use,” said Dr. Peter Taub,, of Mount Sinai Medical Center and Dr. Alan Matarasso of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Both are in New York City.
“Refraining from [e-cigarette] use four weeks before surgery is a prudent course of action, despite the fact that it has yet to be determined if the effects are similar to traditional cigarettes,” they added.
The doctors noted that there are still plenty of unanswered questions about the safety of e-cigarettes, which produce vapor. Traditional cigarettes produce smoke.
“The long-term effects of inhaling nicotine vapor are unclear, but there is no evidence to date that it causes cancer or heart disease as cigarette smoking does,” they said.
As for the risks of smoking before surgery in general, the doctors pointed to a study that suggested quitting smoking 3 to 4 weeks before general surgery could reduce complications by up to 40 percent.
Some plastic surgeons advise smoking patients to stop at least 4 weeks before their procedures. “Vapers” (people who smoke e-cigs) should do the same thing, the plastic surgeons said.
The statement appears in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
For more about e-cigarettes, try the National Institute on Drug Abuse.