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Arch Dermatol. 1991 Jul;127(7):1012-5.

Cigarette smoking and flap and full-thickness graft necrosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.


The association between cigarette smoking and necrosis of flaps and full-thickness grafts was analyzed in 220 patients. Review of a series of 916 flaps and full-thickness grafts revealed 44 patients in whom some degree of tissue necrosis occurred. These patients with necrosis were age and gender matched with 176 controls randomly selected from the remaining 872 patients. Current high-level smokers, that is those smoking one or more packs per day, had necrosis develop approximately three times more frequently than never smokers, low-level smokers (less than one pack per day), or former smokers (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 8.2). Former smokers (relative risk, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.6 to 3.2) and low-level smokers (relative risk, 1.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.2 to 6.1) were at a negligible increased risk for necrosis that was not significantly different from never smokers. Once tissue necrosis developed, the median percent of the visible flap or graft tissue that necrosed was approximately threefold greater among current smokers (regardless of the number of packs per day smoked) than never smokers.

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