Should You Stop Smoking E-Cigarettes Before Surgery?

Christie Auyeung General Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Weight Loss Surgery Leave a Comment

Last year, we wrote about why it’s important to stop smoking before plastic surgery. Smoking increases the risk of complications in the operating room and prevents proper healing after surgery. These risks are due to the inhalation of nicotine, carbon monoxide and cyanide present in cigarettes. But do the dangers of smoking also apply to e-cigarettes? A new paper by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons discusses this question.

Let’s take a look at what they concluded. But first, let’s cover some basics:

What are e-cigarettes?

“Electronic cigarettes” are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings and other chemicals in vapor form instead of smoke. Also called “vaping”, smoking e-cigarettes has been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years.

Are e-cigarettes safer than traditional cigarettes?

There is widespread belief that smoking e-cigarettes might be safer than traditional cigarettes, and can even be a “transition bridge” to stop smoking. However, many healthcare providers are concerned about potential harmful effects from e-cigarettes.

Because e-cigarettes are relatively new, it has yet to be determined if their effects are similar to traditional cigarettes. The long-term effects of inhaling nicotine vapor are unclear, as there is no hard evidence yet that it is linked to cancer or heart disease. Studies are currently being performed in order to obtain such data.

So, should you stop smoking e-cigarettes before surgery?

Although there is no hard evidence on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes yet, it is known that nicotine induces reductions in blood flow, which can get in the way of proper healing after surgery and increase risks of complications in the operating room. Most vapers use e-cigarette solutions that contain nicotine, which could lead to the same adverse effects. Additionally, the other potentially toxic substances found in e-cigarette vapor could also negatively impact surgery recovery.

So, healthcare providers strongly advise patients to stop smoking e-cigarettes for at least 3-4 weeks before surgery, similar to the guidelines for traditional cigarettes.

When it comes to the success of your surgery, it’s best to err on the side of safety. If you have additional questions on stopping smoking before surgery or other ways to prepare for surgery, speak to one our world class doctors today!

Christie is a UChicago grad currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she enjoys tap dancing, learning to windsurf, and trying new foods.