Scheduled for plastic surgery? Say no to alcohol

01 August 2014

No alcohol before cosmetic surgeryBy Plastic Surgeon Dr Dirk Kremer

If you've ever been hospitalised, you will know that surgeons always advise you to refrain from eating and drinking for around 12-24 hours before and after the surgery - it all depends on the type of surgery you're having. There are many reasons why surgeons advise this, but the overriding factor is safety, for both you and your doctor.

If food and water are prohibited before surgery, it goes without saying that drinking alcohol before or after the surgery should be avoided at all costs. I would personally refrain from drinking for at least 24-48 hours before and after your surgery (and possibly longer than 2 weeks after surgery, for the body to be in the best condition to heal itself).

Why can't you drink before the surgery?

It is important not to drink alcohol before undergoing plastic surgery – or any type of surgery for that matter - as it can and cause unforeseen complications and seriously impact on the final results and the way you heal. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you shouldn't drink before having cosmetic surgery:

Alcohol dries out your skin

Alcohol, especially when consumed to excess, can dry out your skin, which can then result in cracks appearing. If you're having a plastic surgery procedure where skin is stretched (facelift, breast augmentation or abdominoplasty for example) then dry, cracked skin will make it harder for the surgeon to staple or stich the skin together, resulting in a less than optimum result and possibly scarring.

Alcohol affects sedative and anaesthetic agents

Before any major cosmetic procedure, you will be sedated. Drinking alcohol can result in serious problems for the anaesthesiologist as they will be unable to correctly estimate the dose required to put you under, because alcohol reduces the effectiveness of sedatives. In order to ensure your safety and to avoid sedating you more heavily than necessary in normal conditions, a wise cosmetic surgeon may – and should - refuse to operate on you, which means that you’ll need to book another appointment, pay for any expenses incurred – and wait longer to have the surgery you've been waiting for.

Alcohol thins your blood

Alcohol naturally thins your blood, and all types of invasive plastic surgery will involve some blood loss. Most plastic surgeons will refuse to perform surgery on someone who has been drinking alcohol because the thinned blood makes it harder to stop any unexpected excessive bleeding during surgery. Since safety comes first, a surgeon will not risk your health to operate on you if you have alcohol in your blood.

Why can’t you drink after surgery?

Drinking after plastic surgery can be just as serious as drinking before surgery; here are some reasons why you should refrain from drinking alcohol after your surgery for a certain period of time - your plastic surgeon will tell you exactly how long you have to avoid alcohol, depending on your general health, your medical history and the type of aesthetic surgery you had.

Alcohol may increase risks of swelling

Drinking alcohol widens your blood vessels and this can cause swelling, which can then lead to additional complications. If you've recently undergone rhinoplasty, drinking alcohol after the procedure can be very serious as the nose is very susceptible to alcohol-related swelling – and if your nose swells, it will be painful and it will take you longer to recuperate.

Mixing alcohol with any medication is dangerous

After an invasive plastic surgery procedure such as a breast augmentation or a tummy tuck, it is likely that you’ll be prescribed some medications to help control any pain or swelling. Drinking alcohol can seriously affect the effectiveness of medicine and mixing drugs and alcohol can have dangerous consequences. Believe me, after surgery you will appreciate pain killers, and it’s easier to do without alcohol than without pain killers!

Alcohol is highly likely to prolong the recovery process

Generally, drinking alcohol after surgery will impede your recovery and will thin your blood. The thinning of your blood can cause additional problems such as prolonged bleeding or infections, as alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of your autoimmune system.

If you’re thinking about having plastic surgery, please contact my team at Harley Street Aesthetics to set up an initial consultation. During the consultation, I’ll speak about the options available to you and explain each stage in the surgical process.