Most people who smoke know that the chemicals in cigarettes are unhealthy, and some of them turn to electronic cigarettes, also called ecigarettes or simple ecigs, as what they feel is a healthier alternative. However, just last week, two prominent plastic surgeons advised that patients should put down the ecigs at least four weeks before their planned plastic surgeries.

The Protocol for Traditional Smokers

People who smoke regular cigarettes are advised by their plastic surgeons that they will have the best possible results if they give up smoking at least four weeks before they have surgery. This is because there is some evidence to suggest that it is the nicotine in cigarettes (not the chemicals themselves) that can cause complications. Of these, skin flap failure is one of the biggest worries. This occurs when skin is moved from one location to another, such as during a facial reconstruction surgery. There is also evidence to suggest that smoking significantly slows the rate at which wounds heal and may even increase the chances of developing a potentially dangerous infection at incision sites.

Why Ecigs are Given the Same Precautions

Although science shows that ecigs do not produce traditional smoke, which makes them free of many of the same harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, the fact remains that there has not been enough research on electronic cigarettes to effectively determine their safety – or their lack thereof. For this reason, two very well-known plastic surgeons in New York City, Peter Taub of Mount Sinai Medical Center and Alan Matarasso of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, have urged plastic surgeons to provide ecig users with the same pre-surgical guidelines as traditional smokers.

Citing the Facts

Surprisingly, both doctors also noted that they’re aware of studies that suggest ecigs do not have the same cancer-causing properties or tendency to cause heart disease as traditional cigarettes, namely because they create vapor instead of smoke. There’s no true combustion, which means the user is not inhaling as many harmful chemicals when using ecigs. However, the nicotine in the ecigs is still questionable pre-surgery, and even those who use nicotine-free electronic devices should also put them down before their procedures. In this case, it’s a matter of being safe rather than sorry.

Ongoing Research

Ecigs have been in the news more and more often as of late, and recent FDA regulations have helped to improve the quality of products sold to people across the country. However, medical studies have yet to confirm or deny the idea that ecigs truly are safer than their traditional counterparts. Until then, at least two plastic surgeons in New York City feel that it’s best to discontinue them a few weeks before surgery – or even give them up altogether. After all, it is still introducing a foreign substance into the lungs and the body, and it’s an action that can be avoided.

If you’re planning plastic surgery, remember to completely stop using electronic cigarettes, regular cigarettes, vaporizers, or any other inhalable source of nicotine at least four weeks before your procedure. This will enhance your odds of a more successful surgery and lessen the risk of flap failure as well as infection.

Meet Our Doctors

Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel

Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel

With special expertise in all aspects of facial plastic surgery, and a particular skill for revision surgery, it’s clear why Dr. Spiegel is one of the most celebrated facial plastic surgeons in the world. If you are seeking the best possible results, or have a uniquely challenging problem, you’ve found the right doctor.

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Dr. Onir L. Spiegel

Dr. Onir L. Spiegel

Dr. Onir (pronounced “oh-near”) has years of experience in facial aesthetics and treats some of the most recognizable and famous faces. Dr. Onir started her career in oral health, earning doctorate degrees from both New York University and Boston University. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her cutting-edge medical research as well as her technical skills in dentistry.

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Dr. Jacob Tower

Dr. Jacob Tower

A board-certified specialist in facial plastic surgery, Dr. Jacob Tower brings a thoughtful approach and an artistic eye to New England’s premier plastic surgery practice, The Spiegel Center in Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to being an in-demand surgeon, Dr. Tower is an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, a sought-after lecturer, and an expert in facial plastic surgery.

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