Authored by Revere Health

What are the Risks of Uncontrolled Medical Conditions During Plastic Surgery?

October 3, 2018 | Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryValue-Based Care

Before considering plastic surgery, it is important to disclose your complete medical history to your doctor. Uncontrolled health conditions can increase your risk of surgical complications and prolong the healing process. Thoroughly evaluating the general state of your health with your plastic surgeon will help give you understand what needs to be taken care of as you prepare for surgery.

Your surgeon will examine your health history and your family’s health history—especially for factors relating to your blood’s ability to clot. A few other factors that your surgeon will look for and are important to consider include:

  • Extreme obesity
  • History of cancer
  • History of severe infections
  • History of smoking
  • Medications
  • Allergies

Blood Pressure

Chronic medical conditions pose challenges for any surgical candidate. Hypertension, for example, can increase your risk of excessive bleeding during surgery. Certain medications for high blood pressure such as blood thinners can also cause issues.

How to Manage High Blood Pressure

“Lifestyle modifications are essential,” explains the American Heart Association. “These changes may reduce your blood pressure without the use of prescription medications.” Although there is no cure, high blood pressure is manageable if you implement lifestyle habits such as changing your diet, physical activity, stress reduction and adding helpful medications when necessary.


If you are diabetic it is important to know that you have an increased risk of infection and delayed wound healing. Years of study have uncovered some factors leading to the clinical findings in relation to diabetes mellitus, which are important to be aware of and talk to your surgeon about as you are considering plastic surgery. Diabetes is also a concern because too much insulin can affect anesthesia during surgery and cause an increased risk of infection after surgery.

How to Manage Diabetes

Treatment for diabetes varies between cases, but a good diet plan and regular exercise are very valuable for both management and prevention. Other management techniques include blood sugar monitoring, insulin treatment, medications and exercise.


Smoking has a high number of risk factors associated with plastic surgery. A study found that a smoker is 12.5 times more likely to suffer from skin necrosis, the premature death of cells in skin tissue, after a facelift than a nonsmoker. In the study, more than 70% of skin sloughs were thought to be associated with cigarette smoke exposure. Additionally, nicotine and carbon monoxide can lead to health problems such as a decrease in myocardial function, hypertension and tachycardia. These issues affect circulation of blood by restricting small vessels no matter how the nicotine has entered your body.

How to Manage Your Smoking Habit

It is recommended that you stop smoking and using any nicotine products at least four weeks prior to surgery, but quitting smoking for good can drastically reduce your health risks. Many people have found success through behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement therapy and medication.


Carrying extra weight can affect your surgical outcomes. Fat flaps are tough to work around, anesthesia breathing tubes are much more difficult to put in, and high blood sugar levels and inflammation make patients more prone to surgical site infections. The stitching process can also be impacted as fatty tissue doesn’t heal as well as tissue with more blood vessels. Added weight also puts more stress on a healing wound, slowing down the healing process.

How to Manage Obesity

Obese patients should consider weight loss options before elective surgeries such as plastic surgery. Many people have found success using a weight loss program. Weight loss programs that are safe and effective will emphasize goal-based weight loss at a slow, steady pace. Be sure to choose a program that emphasizes behavior and lifestyle modification as well as providing counseling and a plan for keeping the weight off.

As you consider and prepare for plastic surgery, make sure that you are transparent with your surgeon and work on controlling any health conditions that might complicate the process.


Our physicians are board-certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, making them some of the most qualified providers in the nation to handle both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures. Our staff will work with you to determine your options and goals and will make sure you feel comfortable throughout your procedure or treatment.



“Management of Medical Morbidities and Risk Factors Before Surgery: Smoking, Diabetes, and Other Complicating Factors.” Seminars in Plastic Surgery.

“Preparing for Surgery: Health Condition Checklist” OrthoInfo

“The effect of cigarette smoking on skin-flap survival in the face lift patient.” Seminars in Plastic Surgery

“What I Need to Know About You: Why Your Medical History Is Important.” Beauty by Buford


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.