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Smoking and wound healing problems in reduction mammaplasty: is the introduction of urine nicotine testing justified?

Lennard K W Chan, Simon Withey, Peter E M Butler
Annals of Plastic Surgery 2006, 56 (2): 111-5
We sought to prove a significant relationship between cigarette smoking and wound healing problems in reduction mammaplasty patients, to show the effect of stopping smoking before the procedure, and to justify the implementation of urine nicotine testing preoperatively. One hundred and seventy-three consecutive patients aged 16 to 67 years underwent bilateral reduction mammaplasty in our institution over 26 months. Patients were advised to stop smoking at least 4 weeks prior to surgery. Records were reviewed and smoking habits reconfirmed via telephone. Wound problems were registered when intervention was necessary. Smokers made up 38.5% of the cases. Wound healing problems showed statistical significance (P < 0.05) between smokers (55.4%) and nonsmokers (33.7%). More than 75% of smokers admitted denying smoking within 4 weeks of surgery. Trend analysis revealed a significant association of wound healing problems for those who stopped longer than 4 weeks (33.3%), those who stopped less than 4 weeks (52.6%), and those who persisted until the operation (67.7%). Smoking increased wound healing problems after bilateral reduction mammaplasty. The introduction of compulsory urine nicotine testing at the preadmission clinic and prior to the operation will provide objective verification of patients' smoking history, minimize morbidity, and enable healthcare cost savings.

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