How Alcohol and Recreational Drugs can Impact your Cosmetic Surgery Results

While preparing for your cosmetic surgery, you will most likely be asked some questions that may seem a little personal, like: How often do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke marijuana? Do you do recreational drugs?

The answers to these questions help your plastic surgeon understand your health, avoid complications during surgery, and provide the best post-op care.

Alcohol and recreational drugs (like cocaine, ice/meth, ecstasy and marijuana) are substances that have physiological effects on the body and its primary functions like blood circulation and breathing. Therefore the use of these substances, can impact your cosmetic surgery by interfering with the anesthesia given to you and can cause breathing or cardiac complications, and ruining the outcome of your surgery.

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting an Abdominoplasty, Facelift, rhinoplasty, Breast Augmentation, or any other cosmetic surgery. Both recreational drugs and alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system, prolong healing time, and affect recovery.

Surgeons at Coco Ruby clinic all agree that good communication with your plastic surgery team combined with accurate information are key for successful cosmetic surgery and great results.

Do Alcohol and Recreational Drugs Really Affect Cosmetic Surgery?

Alcohol and recreational drugs, also known as party or designer drugs, CAN affect cosmetic surgery not only during the anesthesia phase, but during the actual surgery, and the recovery as well.

Before cosmetic surgery, you will be given an anaesthetic or sedative so you don’t feel pain during the surgery. The use of any other drugs or alcohol can present a dangerous challenge for your anesthetist who will have to re-estimate how much anesthesia you need during surgery.

Recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and ice/meth, cause changes in the heart rate and rhythm. So does alcohol. This can lead to a fatal outcome when combined with the effect of anesthesia you’re given for your cosmetic surgery.

Your cosmetic surgery may involve some bleeding which your body responds to by clotting the blood. Alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to stop the bleeding which makes you healing slower.

How Does Alcohol Affect Cosmetic Surgery?

Alcohol consumption can cause many complications with your cosmetic surgery. Alcohol can affect the dose of anesthesia you need, your heart rate and breathing, as well as, your recovery time and cosmetic surgery results. Some of the effects of alcohol on plastic surgery include:

Increases The Need For Anaesthetic

Anaesthetic and sedatives used in cosmetic surgery contain medication that is metabolized by the liver. Regularly drinking too much alcohol can damage liver function. Consequently, this can change your body’s reaction to anesthesia and its ability to metabolize the anaesthetic drugs. In turn this can lead to underestimation of the required dose, surgery interruption, and re-initiation of anesthesia.

Increases Your Risk of Cardiac Events During Surgery

Alcohol can induce irregular heart rhythm and can affect your blood pressure. Drinking alcohol before a breast lift surgery or liposuction procedure, for example, can increase the risk of heart problems and breathing complications during the operation.

Increases Postoperative Bleeding

It is common to have some bleeding at your incision sites after plastic surgery. Normally, your blood clots on the wound to stop the bleeding. As a potent blood thinner, alcohol gets in the way of that process and can increase the risk of post-op bleeding. Having alcohol in your system can, therefore, make it more difficult for your body to heal from plastic surgery.

Increases Your Risk of Infection

Another alcohol-related post-op complication is infection. Regular alcohol use can weaken your immune system and prevent your immune cells from properly defending vulnerable surgical wounds. This is why alcohol is known to increase the risk of surgical site infection after plastic surgery.

Interferes With Medication

Following your cosmetic surgery, you may be prescribed painkillers, antibiotics, and other medications to improve your recovery. This is usually standard after invasive cosmetic procedures, such as breast reduction, facelift, or abdominoplasty.

Alcohol can interfere with the activity of these drugs and delay or complicate your recovery. It can make your recovery more challenging after any cosmetic procedure.

Ruins Your Cosmetic Results

Alcohol also stops you from getting the best cosmetic results from your plastic surgery by complicating the healing process of your incisions and wounds.

How Do Recreational Drugs Affect Cosmetic Surgery?

The recreational use of drugs before cosmetic surgery and their continued use after surgery can lead to several complications. Additionally, prolonged use of street drugs can stop you from getting the desired cosmetic results from your procedure.

Using recreational drugs before plastic surgery can:

Increase The Need For Anaesthetic

As with alcohol, recreational drugs also affect the way your body responds to anaesthesia. Just like anaesthetic drugs, party drugs like marijuana and meth affect the central nervous system. Consequently, drug users usually need a higher dose of anaesthetic and full narcosis might be challenging.

Increase Your Recovery Time

Recreational drugs can weaken your body’s ability to fight off infections that can occur while you’re recovering from cosmetic surgery. This means your wound healing after surgery can take longer and jeopardizes the results.

Increase Your Risk of Cardiac Complications During Surgery

Street drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, can have major effects on your cardiovascular system. The recreational use of drugs can lead to swings in your blood pressure and the weakening of your heart muscles.

Therefore, these drugs can cause your heart rate and breathing to slow down during surgery. That’s the same effect anaesthetic drugs have. So, the combined effect of anesthesia and some recreational drugs can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and can put your life at risk during surgery.

Cause Respiratory Complications

Smoking marijuana can cause lung problems and increase your risk of respiratory infections. These marijuana-induced lung issues can cause complications during your anesthesia, such as increased airway sensitivity, especially if a breathing tube is involved.

Worsen Pain After Surgery

Regular users of recreational/street drugs like marijuana are likely to experience more pain after surgery. This would increase the patient’s need for post-op pain management medication.

Cause Cosmetic Problems

The abuse of some drugs, like cocaine and crystal meth, can independently lead to cosmetic problems and physical deformities.

What to Do About Alcohol and Recreational Drug Use Before Cosmetic Surgery?

We prioritize your health and safety and aim to give you the best results you can get from cosmetic surgery. Below are our recommendations on what to do about substance use before cosmetic surgery:

  • Share with your surgeon exactly which prescribed or recreational drugs you’re on and how much you’re taking.
    • Also fully disclose your drinking habits.
    • This will help your surgeon assess your health and plan the surgery to make it as safe as possible for you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol at least 48 hours, and ideally a week, before your cosmetic surgery.
    • This will help your surgery run smoothly and help you recover faster and better.
  • Don’t use marijuana, not even edibles, or other recreational drugs before your surgery or during recovery.
    • This will only make it harder for you to recover, interfere with your prescribed medications, and worsen your cosmetic surgery outcomes.

Always remember that you yourself play an enormous role in protecting your own health and improving the results of your cosmetic surgery. So keep your surgeons well informed and follow their instructions.

FAQs about Recreational Drugs and Surgery:

Should I tell my doctor I smoke weed?

  • You should tell your doctor or surgeon about any substance use no matter how infrequent.
  • This will help your surgeon or doctor provide you with the medical best care.
  • This information is confidential and is not shared with any other party.

Can smoking marijuana help with pain after surgery?

  • Although medical marijuana has been found able to reduce pain and inflammation, marijuana use can increase postoperative pain and therefore increase your need for painkillers after surgery.

What drugs should be avoided before surgery?

  • Before your surgery, you should stop using any anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners) and any recreational drugs (pot, cocaine, meth, ecstasy).
  • Make sure you let your surgeon know about any drug you might be taking.

What happens if I drink alcohol after my surgery?

  • Drinking alcohol after any surgery, can thin out your blood and increase your risk of post-op bleeding.
  • It can also prolong your healing time and put you at a higher risk for infection.

Further Reading – Medical References about Recreational Drugs


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Last updated: 31/10/2023
Author profile image
Dr Craig Rubinstein - MBBS, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Craig Rubinstein MBBS, FRACS (Plast), a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, is one of Australia's most respected Melbourne Surgeons for Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift (Mastopexy), Breast Reduction surgery and Abdominoplasty procedures. Using advanced surgical techniques to gain better body contouring and natural-looking surgical results, Dr Rubinstein is highly regarded by peers and patients for best-practice Clinic Patient-care and patient education strategies. He published a chapter on corrective surgery for Breast Asymmetry. Qualifications/Training Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) Founder: Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery previously Cosmetic Surgery for Women and Men Bio Page:

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With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Phone 1300 599 990, Email us: or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Consultation with a Surgeon.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.