Question: I currently weigh 160 pounds, and am 5' 6". I am having breast lift surgery in five weeks. As a result I have quit smoking, and am dieting to optimize my health before the surgery. I am only 28 years old, and plan to get down to 148 pounds prior to the surgery to minimize the chances of anything terrible happening to me during the procedure because of poor health. I am terrified that I am at risk for a surgical catastrophe. What should I know about my risks before the surgery?

Answer: All medical and scientific evidence points to four weeks of smoking cessation - including nicotine use in patches or otherwise - as the skin flap survival timeline (in lab animals, mind you). This is not a magic number by any means, but the fact that you quit smoking and are working on your weight is a great approach to minimizing your risks. The best advice I can give is for you continue to abstain from nicotine in any form, and continue to diet to optimize your weight as well. Both are good for your overall health in the long run, so keep it up. The balance of your surgery and the risks fall into the hands of your plastic surgeon and his or her staff. Talk to them about your concerns before the surgery, so you are less terrified before undergoing the procedure. I wish you the best of luck.