The Surprising Surgery That May Help You Quit Smoking

Updated: Jan. 03, 2018

Scheduling this very specific type of surgery may actually help you quit smoking a lot faster than you ever expected—no patches required.

SmokingYAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/ShutterstockIf quitting smoking is high on your New Year’s resolutions list, here’s good news: New long-term research findings indicate that booking cosmetic surgery may actually be the key to smoking less or quitting altogether in the years following surgery.

The study, published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgerylooked at 85 patients who were regular smokers at the time of booking their plastic surgery procedures, such as tummy tucks and breast and face lifts. Forty percent of them had quit smoking at least on a daily basis five years later, and about a quarter of those respondents had quit smoking entirely. (Don’t miss these plastic surgery procedures you never knew existed.)

The reason: Most plastic surgeons require patients to stop smoking for at least two weeks before their surgeries to help speed wound healing, blood clotting, and a host of other surgery-related issues. “One of the worst things about smoking in the preoperative period is that it causes immediate vasoconstriction, which means it tightens your blood vessels and decreases blood flow on a microscopic level,” explains John Paul Tutela, MD, a celebrity plastic surgeon based in New York and New Jersey.

Better yet, this unexpected solution to nicotine addiction may be how to quit smoking cigarettes naturally, because opting for cosmetic surgery forces patients into a “cold turkey” method of quitting, which may be helpful. “It is not only the smoking that is bad, but also the nicotine itself; so patients need to be off of all nicotine products,” Dr. Tutela says. “They can’t quit smoking and be using the patch or nicotine gum.” There seems to be scientific evidence that the cold turkey method is best too.

Of course, the benefits of kicking smoking to the curb are seemingly endless—and hardly limited to healing. The study also reported a significantly lower incidence of post-surgery complications in the patients who fully quit, and Dr. Tutela touts better skin quality, reduced wrinkling, and looking younger among the benefits of being smoke-free.

If cosmetic surgery isn’t in your plans but you’re looking to quit smoking, find out what finally worked for these ex-smokers.