Causes of Poor Wound Healing after Plastic Surgery

If a patient is experiencing poor wound healing after plastic surgery, the first step should be to call the plastic surgeon. When wounds are slow to heal, it may be indicative of a serious problem, which needs to be addressed immediately by a doctor. Poor wound healing may be an indication of a serious problem, and it is more likely to occur when patients fail to follow the plastic surgeon’s post-operative instructions.

Before and after surgery, patients are given very specific instructions about what is and what is not appropriate to do and consume during this time. If pre-operative instructions are not followed, the surgery may have to be postponed. The post-operative instructions are just as important, as they are designed to ensure that patients have a smooth and incident-free recovery. If a patient observes that the incision site or sites are not healing properly, it may be because of one of the following reasons.

Tobacco Use

Smoking cigarettes or cigars can significantly reduce the body’s ability to heal itself. Not only does it reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood, it also impairs the body’s ability to produce the necessary enzymes and proteins that are essential to wound healing.

If a patient has plastic surgery and then starts smoking before the incision is completely healed, it can considerably slow down the recovery process. Those who wish to have a cosmetic or elective surgery should stop smoking a full month before their surgery and then continue to not smoke until the area is completely healed, which could be an additional six to eight weeks.

According to studies, it takes a full month for the body’s healing processes to restore to normal after it has been suppressed by tobacco use, but will immediately become stymied again, once the patient returns to tobacco use. Plastic surgeons generally expect their patients to be non-smokers in order to avoid this problem, as slow wound healing opens the door to infection, more prominent scarring, and other complications.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption may also play a role in slow wound healing, for many of the same reasons as tobacco use. Regular consumption of alcohol deprives the body of oxygen and other healing resources.

It is best to avoid alcohol in all its forms both before and after the surgery, in order to ensure that the body’s full attention can be given to the task of healing.


The signs of infection are relatively easy to spot, but slow wound healing is one of the most serious and most telling. In addition, if the patient experiences any extreme heat, redness, swelling, or pus at the site of the wound, he or she should contact the doctor immediately. If the area is taking much longer to heal than the plastic surgeon originally reported, patients should be concerned and contact the doctor as soon as possible so the wound can be evaluated and antibiotics can be prescribed.

Contact Jefferson Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation, and get information on caring for the incision site after plastic surgery.

Questions? Email us today.

To make or reschedule an appointment please complete the form below or call:  (215) 625-6630.

CALL US TODAY: (215)625-6630


Jefferson Plastic Surgery is located on the corner of 9th and Walnut streets in Center City, Philadelphia on the 15th floor of the Wills Eye Hospital Building.

Jefferson Plastic Surgery
840 Walnut Street - 15th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
Phone: (215) 625-6630
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