If you smoke, you’ve probably already heard all of the warnings about the impact that smoking can have on your overall health — including serious illnesses such as chronic respiratory and circulatory diseases and cancer. But you probably didn’t realize that smoking cigarettes can also slow your recovery from breast augmentation surgery, and can increase your risk of developing complications with your breast implants. Because smoking can so significantly affect your recovery and results from breast augmentation, some plastic surgeons refuse to perform the procedure on people who continue to smoke.

Smoking cigarettes constricts your blood vessels and decreases the oxygen supply to your cells — and oxygen is key to helping your body heal from the breast augmentation. Without the necessary blood supply, your body will take longer to heal, and be more prone to developing post-surgery infections and other complications. Smoking cigarettes may also increase the likelihood of developing capsular contracture and other malformations of the breast implants, and more prominent and irregular scars.

And if your smoking habit has already affected your respiratory and circulatory systems, it could complicate your surgery as well, making anesthesia more challenging, increasing the likelihood of developing post-surgical complications, such as collapsed lungs or pneumonia. Your plastic surgeon may require a stress test to determine if your heart and lungs are healthy enough to undergo the surgery.

Your plastic surgeon will likely ask you if you smoke, and will recommend avoiding smoking cigarettes for a period of time before and after your breast implant surgery to increase blood flow to the surgical sites and decrease the risk of complications. Some doctors suggest stopping at least five weeks before surgery, and for up to five weeks after surgery — but others just require it for a few weeks before and after the breast augmentation. You should follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding quitting smoking before and after your plastic surgery, though you might want to consider quitting the smoking habit permanently, to help you turn over a new, healthier leaf to match your brand new body.