Doctors have issued a stern warning to people who have undergone breast surgery to avoid doing this particular thing that could force their n*pples to fall off.
Smoking just one month before or after a breast surgery can lead to your n*pples turning black and falling off, according to a top plastic surgeon.
Even if you have never been a smoker, the toxins in a cigarette can cause blood supply to the healing breasts to be cut off ultimately making the nipples fall off.
But doctors can save the decaying nipples with a treatment that sounds just as bizarre as the prognosis – blood sucking medical-grade leeches.
Michigan plastic surgeon Dr Anthony Youn described his experience treating a patient who almost lost her nipples from smoking.
Surgeons advised to refrain from smoking during the time of any surgery.
Dr Youn told Daily Mail Online that it is especially dangerous to smoke when having a surgery where the blood supply is significantly altered such as tummy tucks, face lifts and boob jobs.
‘The nicotine and the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke constricts blood vessels and you need that blood to heal and for your body to be alive,’ he said.
If the blood flow to a particular body part is greatly reduced or completely cut off, that body part dies.
When you smoke before you after surgery, the cigarette carbons act as a ‘virtual tourniquet’ causing the nipple to die, a process called necrosis. Dr Youn said that the area will first turn purple or blue, which is a precursor to black, signifying that not enough blood is getting to the area.
Patients won’t feel much pain, but instead the area will be numb and gradually get worse.
It could take several weeks before the nipple falls off on its own, but typically a doctor would surgically remove it and reconstruct the nipple and areola If you do make it to a doctor in time, they may be able to perform an unorthodox but timely treatment to save the nipple instead of cutting them off.
‘We use leeches to literally suck out the excess venous blood from the body part, acting as an attachable vein,’ Dr Youn wrote in a blog post describing the time he performed this on a patient. He placed leeches on top of the decaying nipple until the body part grew new blood vessels.
The leeches then drained the old blood, causing it to turn from unhealthy purple back to healthy pink, typically taking several days.
Dr Youn has successfully performed the treatment twice on nipples and once on a finger.
Leech therapy or hirudotherapy has been used in medicine for 2,500 years. The river-dwelling creatures provide a natural local anesthetic to reduce pain, a local vasodilator to widen blood vessels and hirudin which prevents further clogging.
While it may be a rare treatment, Dr Youn said that most big hospitals have medical leeches that can be accessed within hours.
He also said the more you smoke the higher your chances are of this occurring.
‘I tell patients to stop smoke three to four weeks before surgery and three to four weeks after, during the initial healing phase,’ he said.
It doesn’t matter the quality of the doctor if you don’t adhere to their guidelines.
‘Even if you had the best doctor, if you smoke around any type of surgery, it can happen to anyone,’ he added.
He adds that boob jobs aren’t the only plastic surgeries this can happen in .
‘If you smoke and have a face lift, skin on the face can die and show exposed fat, or if you have a tummy tuck a hole in your stomach can form,’ he said.