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Quit Smoking for Vanity's Sake!

Quit Smoking for Vanity's Sake!

Lisa Morrison is a very healthy 50-year-old woman. She exercises regularly, eats only organic food and meditates often. However, her one vice had always been smoking. During the course of her 30-plus year love affair with smoking, she had tried to quit several times. She tried acupuncture, patches, hypnosis—nothing worked. Nothing, that is, until she decided she wanted cosmetic surgery on her face in 2007.

To have a successful outcome for a neck- and eye-lift procedure, Morrison’s doctor told her she had to quit smoking or he wouldn't do the surgery. That ultimatum was all she needed to finally quit … and get a younger-looking face.

Most doctors refuse to do plastic surgery on smokers because nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood flow to the skin. Without proper blood flow to the skin, wounds might heal improperly, infections can occur, bruises will last longer and scars may be brighter or bigger.

Granted, some doctors are stricter about checking a patient’s smoking status than others. Some doctors merely do a smell test for nicotine and do a skin assessment before allowing patients to go ahead with surgery. On the other side of the spectrum are the doctors who require urine samples from their patients to prove they are smoke-free at least a couple weeks before a procedure. Most doctors are willing to help their patients reach their non-smoking goal, after all, they want to perform the procedure as much as the patient’s want it.

While quitting smoking is always a difficult goal worth celebrating, is plastic surgery really the right motivation? Is anyone else worried about the “image before health” message this conjurs? [The New York Times]

Posted: 8/21/08