Alcohol and Plastic Surgery, Not a Good Mix: Why You Should Cut Back Before the Big Day

Plastic Surgery Deciding on plastic surgery in San Francisco is a big commitment. And though your friends might be tempted to propose a good luck toast – most surgeons would recommend against it.

Generally speaking, the best plastic surgery candidates should abstain from drinking alcohol at least two weeks prior to and following surgery. This may be longer or shorter depending on the specific procedure planned for surgery.

Alcohol and surgery (all surgery, not just plastic surgery) aren’t a good mix for a number of reasons. Below are our top five for skipping the booze:

1) Increased Swelling

Swelling, also known as edema, occurs as a natural response to injury or trauma – making it an inevitable part of the healing process. Depending on the procedure performed, swelling can last for a few weeks or even several months.


Most patients want to minimize swelling as much as possible and there are several ways to do this: elevation, compression garments, ice packs and – avoiding alcohol before and after surgery. Drinking alcohol widens the blood vessels making your body more susceptible to swelling. The nose in particular, is especially prone to alcohol-related swelling following rhinoplasty.

2) Increased Bleeding

Alcohol works as a blood thinner – making blood platelets less active, and ultimately inhibiting their ability to coagulate. As a result, drinking alcohol before or after surgery increases your risk of post-surgical bleeding. This means it will take longer for your body to heal and recover, which can also translate in more days off from your normal routine.

3) Drug Interactions

Following plastic surgery, it’s common for most patients to be prescribed antibiotics and/or pain medication. These prescriptions are meant to reduce the risk of a post-surgical infection and minimize discomfort. Combing these medications with alcohol can not only be detrimental to your recovery, they can be dangerous to your overall health.

4) Anesthesia Interference

When combined with sedatives or anesthetic agents, alcohol can exaggerate their effects. If you have alcohol in your system prior to surgery, it will be more difficult for your anesthesiologist to estimate the dose of anesthetics necessary to ensure complete comfort. To avoid this problem, you should absolutely avoid alcohol for at least two days before surgery.

5) Dehydration

Because alcohol is a diuretic (it increases urine production), you’re more likely to suffer with dehydration. And since you’ll already be dehydrated after surgery, adding another element like alcohol soon before or after surgery can make you feel horrible during recovery.

Common symptoms of dehydration include headache, dizziness, sleepiness and dry skin. These symptoms on top of normal post-surgical discomfort will make your recovery far more miserable than it needs to be.

The Bottom Line

Avoiding alcohol as much as possible in the weeks prior to and following surgery can help ensure a safe and speedy recovery. If you slip and have a drink a few days before surgery, you’ll probably be just fine, but sneaking alcohol right before or after your surgery is an absolute no-no.

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