Long-term follow-up research shows that many patients receiving these instructions will quit smoking, or at least smoke less, in the years following cosmetic surgery.
A follow-up study included 85 patients who were smokers when evaluated for cosmetic surgery. Like most plastic surgeons, Dr. Van Slike and his colleagues required patients to refrain from smoking for at least two weeks prior to elective procedures.
In a follow-up study, about 40% of patients stated that they no longer smoke cigarettes on a daily basis. Almost a quarter have not smoked at all since their cosmetic surgery procedure.
However, half of the patients admitted that they did not follow the instructions to refrain from smoking prior to surgery. Almost a quarter continued to smoke until the day of their procedure. Dr. Van Slike and colleagues did not test whether patients confirmed smoking cessation.
The rate of complications after cosmetic surgery was higher in patients who continued to smoke: 24 percent versus 14 percent. (The difference was not statistically significant.) More serious complications from wound healing occurred in two patients — both of whom did not follow smoking cessation instructions.
The results show that patients were more likely to quit “targeted messaging” with specific examples of the negative effects of smoking rather than describing the overall health benefits of smoking cessation.