These days, most everyone knows there are several good reasons to quit smoking cigarettes. Numerous studies have shown that smokers are at a greater risk of heart disease, lung problems and several types of cancer; however, according to at least one expert, in certain situations, the nasty habit can also lead to shocking nipple-loss.

Why quit smoking?

According to Anthony Youn, M.D., a Detroit plastic surgeon, female smokers who undergo breast lift cosmetic surgery are at risk of having their nipples turn black and fall off. Young says the nicotine and carbon monoxide often works like a tourniquet by diminishing blood flow, an especially troubling problem immediately after cosmetic surgeries, which require strong blood supplies to encourage proper healing.

Youn says he encourages his female patients to quit smoking cigarettes to prevent this possible occurrence; however, many choose to accept the risk, because they don't know how to stop smoking or are afraid it will increase their appetite and interfere with their weight loss diet programs. According to Youn, the first warning sign of trouble is a deep purpling of the nipple and areola. He says when this occurs, it's a strong sign that the tissue is dying, and if left untreated, the tissue may turn black and require amputation.

How it's treated

In extreme situations, Youn says he's had to use leeches to serve as an attachable vein of sorts. By draining the old blood, the leeches encourage new flow, which ultimately causes the nipple to return to its natural pinkish color. Youn says this can take several days, and most patients may be deeply disturbed by the process.

Other problems

Youn says breast lifts aren't the only types of cosmetic surgeries that can be complicated by smoking. According to him, smokers who seek tummy tucks can end up with serious infections, while those who get face lifts could end up with blackened, dying facial skin. Unfortunately, despite his initial warnings, many people do not quit smoking, and he says he's altered his policy to include harsh warnings about nipple-loss and the prospects of looking like the "Two-Face” villain from Batman: The Dark Knight.

Ways to stop smoking

Even if you aren’t planning to get cosmetic surgery, you should strongly consider putting your cigarettes away for good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a long list of ways you can quit smoking. You can also utilize nicotine gum, patches and other aids to help get you past that difficult first few weeks.