3 Lifestyle Habits That Can Delay Healing From Breast Surgery

Posted on: 25 January 2017


If you are facing breast surgery, your physician will review your post-operative instructions with your prior to your surgery date to help ensure an uneventful recovery. While this can greatly reduce your risk for developing complications when you get home from the hospital, there are a number of lifestyle choices or habits that may actually raise your risk for developing problems while you are recuperating. Here are three lifestyle choices that may lead to a problematic recovery after you have breast surgery and what you can do about them:


If you smoke, try quitting, or at least cutting down before undergoing surgery. General anesthesia coupled with smoking can lead to breathing problems, and in some cases, may even raise the risk for developing pneumonia. In addition, smoking can damage the small capillaries in your body, including the capillaries around your surgical site. When this happens, your incision may not heal well because blood flow may be impaired. 

If you are unable to stop smoking on your own, talk to your doctor about effective smoking cessation methods that will help you quit. Not only will this help you avoid complications after your breast surgery, but it will also help you avoid cardiovascular disease and other smoking-related illnesses later in life. 

Taking Aspirin

Aspirin decreases platelet aggregation and is a powerful anticoagulant. When your blood becomes too thin as a result of taking aspirin, you may be at a greater risk for post-operative bleeding or hemorrhage. If you take aspirin to help manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, talk to your doctor about alternate forms of pain relief.

If however, you are taking aspirin for its cardioprotective properties, or if you are at high risk for heart attack, blood clots, or stroke, do not stop taking it. Doing so may lead to a dangerous cardiac event after your surgery. If you experience severe or uncontrolled bleeding of your incision site, call your surgeon as soon as possible. You may need a surgical revision, anti-clotting medications, or even a blood transfusion if blood loss is extreme. 

Using Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements may lead to excessive bleeding or infection after your breast surgery. Certain dietary supplements containing magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, or garlic can thin your blood, raising your risk for bleeding. Since nutritional supplements are considered food products, they are not strictly regulated in the way that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are.

Because of this, certain dietary supplements may contain impurities or toxins that may raise your risk for illness or post-operative infection. If you take dietary supplements, talk to your doctor prior to undergoing surgery because you may be advised to stop taking them to help avoid problems while you recover.

If you are anticipating breast surgery and either smoke, take aspirin, or use nutritional supplements, speak to your physician prior to your scheduled surgery date. The more your medical team knows about your lifestyle choices, the more likely you are to enjoy a problem-free recuperation.