Wound healing problems in smokers and nonsmokers after 132 abdominoplasties

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003 May;111(6):2082-7; discussion 2088-9. doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000057144.62727.C8.


To study the effects of smoking on wound healing, the authors retrospectively analyzed the records of 132 patients (121 women and 11 men) who had undergone abdominoplasty in the previous 5 years. All patients had received a full abdominoplasty, with large mobilization up to the ribs and a belly transposition. Patients were excluded from the study if they had arteriosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, or other systemic diseases, and if they had received a simple pannus resection without a belly transposition. The following study parameters were taken for analysis: age at the time of operation, body mass index, preoperative weight loss, amount of resection, and smoking habits indicated by the patients preoperatively. Smokers were interviewed by telephone postoperatively concerning their perioperative smoking habits. Wound healing problems were registered when medical intervention was necessary, such as débridement, treatment for infection, lavage after fat necrosis, or a secondary skin closure after skin slough. Hematoma and seroma were not considered to be wound healing problems and were registered separately. Among the 132 patients, 53.8 percent admitted to smoking and 46.2 percent reported being nonsmokers. No significant difference was seen between smokers and nonsmokers concerning age or body mass index. Smokers reported consuming, on average, 18.4 cigarettes per day. The rate of wound problems and wound dehiscence showed a statistical difference between smokers and nonsmokers (p < 0.01); 47.9 percent of the smokers showed wound healing problems before hospital discharge versus 14.8 percent of the nonsmokers. The patients had been asked to quit smoking 2 weeks before the operation through 2 weeks postoperatively. The retrospective telephone inquiry found that just 14.7 percent stopped smoking preoperatively and only 41.2 percent quit temporarily after the operation. Smokers should be informed about their possible higher risk of wound healing problems. Because it seems impossible to turn smokers into nonsmokers, the authors continue to perform abdominoplasties in smokers. During the operation, they try to mobilize and resect less tissue and to immobilize patients for the critical first 3 postoperative days to prevent them from smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Wall / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence
  • Wound Healing*