Alcohol before and after plastic surgery

26 October 2018

Alcoholic drink cocktail red with fruitWhen should I stop drinking alcohol before plastic surgery? This is a very common question that my patients often ask me.

Non-Muslim residents in Dubai can obtain a liquor license to drink alcohol in their own home or in licensed venues, and tourists and visitors to the country can purchase and drink alcohol in licensed venues such as hotels, clubs and restaurants.

With many people visiting Dubai and other parts of the United Arab Emirates to undergo plastic surgery, and with alcohol being readily available in all licensed establishments, the question of whether alcohol and plastic surgery can mix together is a very important one to answer.

Things to know about alcohol before surgery

One of the most common questions that I get asked by a patient during a plastic surgery pre-op consultation is whether they should stop drinking alcohol before surgery takes place, and if so, how soon before? Like all surgeries, whether for cosmetic or medical reasons, it’s always advised that you do not consume food or drink for at least 12-24 hours both before and after the operation - and it should go without saying that this most certainly applies to alcohol. I would even advise that patients wait around 2 weeks post-surgery before drinking alcohol, so that your body remains in the best condition possible to heal.

Why is alcohol bad before plastic surgery?

When you drink alcohol, your body gets used to metabolising it, and alcohol dehydrogenase is an induceable liver enzyme. This means the liver must make this enzyme based on the amount of alcohol you consume, so the more you drink the more the liver must produce. Alcohol can also be a depressant and then an irritant, making you feel relaxed at first, before making you feel anxious. All these things effect your body when it metabolises anaesthesia drugs.

Alcohol before anaesthesia

During surgical cosmetic procedures like breast augmentation or a tummy tuck, patients are placed under general anaesthesia. The drugs that are administered must be metabolised by the liver during and following surgery, and they are usually inhalation agents, narcotics, synthetic narcotics, and anxiolytics. Patients are dosed with these drugs based on their state of health, and it’s presumed that metabolism of the patient will dispose of the drugs predictably. This is where drinking alcohol before your anaesthesia can negatively affect your plastic surgery procedure, as the alcohol is likely to interfere with normal anaesthetic drug metabolism. This creates a safety problem before surgery as alcohol makes it far more difficult to estimate the correct doses that are required to ensure your comfort and safety during the procedure.

Alcohol’s effect on blood clotting

It’s very important that blood can clot normally during any surgical procedure so that excessive bleeding doesn’t become an issue while the patient is on the operating table. One of the many side effects of alcohol is that it is a blood thinner and this can affect your body’s ability to clot blood. If there is alcohol in your bloody system then this can cause complications not only during surgery, but also following surgery, as your wounds may not have the ability to heal efficiently. This can lead to many serious and long-term problems that are far better avoided by simply not consuming alcohol in the lead up to your cosmetic surgery.

So, when is it OK to drink alcohol before or after plastic surgery?

It’s recommended that you stop drinking alcohol at least 12-24 hours before surgery and wait 12-24 hours after surgery. However, I would suggest allowing a much greater length of time each side of the surgery. Ideally, I would say stop drinking for 1-2 weeks prior to surgery so that your body can detox completely and wait up to 2 weeks post-surgery so that your body has the chance to begin the healing process in the best shape possible.

I would also recommend that you stop smoking, ensure you’re well hydrated with water in the lead up to your surgery, and discuss drinking habits with your plastic surgeon if you have any doubts.

If you're due for plastic surgery in the near future, I hope you take this advice on board and do everything you can to put your body in the best condition possible before, during and after your plastic surgery. To find out more about the cosmetic procedures that I perform, don't hesitate to get in touch. Simply fill in the online contact form with your enquiry.


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