Smokers Who Get Breast Implants Risk Unsightly Problem, But Leeches May Solve It

Cosmetic surgeons say medical-grade leeches may be the answer to saving decaying feature on smokers who get breast implants.

Smokers Risk Unsightly Problem With Breast Implants
PhilipImage / Shutterstock

Cosmetic surgeons say medical-grade leeches may be the answer to saving decaying feature on smokers who get breast implants.

Smokers who undergo breast implants may risk losing their nipples after they turn black and fall off. According to a new report on this extreme condition, a cosmetic surgeon turned to using medical-grade blood-sucking leeches to save the nipples of women who experience this unfortunate side effect.

The Daily Mail reveals that people who smoke before or after a month of getting breast implants risk having their nipples literally fall off. The cause behind this has to do with blood vessels circulating to the nipple being severely altered. Surgeons advise smokers to refrain from using nicotine anytime before and after having surgery. Apparently, it can turn into a disaster if this advice isn’t heeded before getting breast implants.

Michigan plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn insists that smokers shouldn’t use nicotine before having a tummy tuck, facelifts, and breast implants. Blood flow to certain parts of the body is highly reduced or completely restricted, culminating in that body part dying.

“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,” Dr. Youn says.

In the case of breast implants performed on smokers, there’s a high risk of cigarette carbons acting as a “virtual tourniquet” that causes the nipple to die, a condition known as “necrosis.” The likelihood of this happening increases if a patient smokes before or after surgery.

The idea of using leeches to save nipples after having breast implants may sound bizarre, but what takes place before such a method is relied on is worse. Dr. Youn reveals that the affected area will first turn purple or blue before ultimately going black. It’s a sign that not enough blood is reaching the nipple area. Patients won’t feel any pain, but it will phase into numbness and get worse from there. Within several weeks, the nipple may fall off and usually requires surgical removal or reconstruction of the nipple and areola area. If patients can make it to their doctor in a timely manner during this decaying process, there’s hope if they use leeches that act as “an attachable vein,” Dr. Youn wrote on his blog post. He wrote that the leeches “suck out the excess venous blood from the body part.”

Dr. Youn put leeches on top of one of his patient’s dying nipples until the new blood vessels were formed. The leeches drained the old blood, which made the purple-colored body part turn back to a healthy pink. The process takes several days to accomplish.

Leeches May Help Unsightly Issue In Breast Implant Patients
Medical-grade leeches may help decaying body parts after breast implant surgery and other procedures. Ekton / Shutterstock

The cosmetic surgeon has successfully depended on leeches; twice on nipples following breast implant surgery and once on a finger.

Leech therapy is also known as hirudotherapy and has been used in medicine for 2,500 years and was effective as a natural local anesthetic to alleviate pain, widen blood vessels, and as a means to prevent clogging.

The use of leeches on decaying body parts is rare, but Dr. Youn says most major hospitals can obtain medical leeches within hours.

Smokers are more at risk for needing this procedure and that’s why Dr. Youn tells his patients to quit smoking three or four weeks prior to surgery, and the same amount of time after the procedure until healing is complete.