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Smoking – Why You Should Quit Before Surgery

Smoking and Surgery

Quitting smoking in general is difficult but quitting before surgery, and continuing to refrain post-surgery, can make dramatic differences to your recovery and is one of the most beneficial changes any patient can make. Giving up the habit is a smart decision no matter what the circumstances are as there are so many positive impacts to your health. It can also significantly decrease the risk of complications for patients during and after surgery. Smokers are forever being inundated with information about the health risks of smoking, however, the benefits to your health by quitting prior to surgery are immediate and substantial.

When to Quit Smoking Before Surgery

With each passing smoke-free day the overall risk of complications lessens. The earlier a smoker can quit, prior to surgery, the better. Even 12 hours prior to surgery, patients have noticed a difference when abstaining from smoking. The ideal period is 8 weeks prior to surgery and quitting smoking for this long will have dramatic effects on your health and recovery.

  • 8 weeks before surgery: the risk of clot related problems decrease (i.e. heart attack and stroke), the body’s immunity will improve which decreases the risk of infection and the response to anaesthetic medications also improves.
  • 3 weeks before surgery: the wound healing time is quicker.
  • 2 weeks before surgery: less breathing problems will occur during surgery.
  • 12 hours before surgery: improved oxygenation, blood pressure and heart rate.

In certain cosmetic procedures smoker’s risks are higher and they have lower success rates than non-smokers. Surgeons sometimes refuse to perform procedures—such as relocating blood vessels—as this could put smokers at risk. Tummy tucks, facelifts, breast reduction, use of tissue flaps (in breast reconstruction, for example) fall into this category. A smoker’s cough can disrupt the abdominal healing of a tummy tuck, breast reconstruction complication rates are significantly increased by smoking and after breast reduction, healing of surgical wounds can be impaired. Smokers undergoing facelift procedures face a 13-fold risk of skin necrosis compared to non-smokers. They also face a higher risk of a hematoma (bleeding) after surgery.

In general, being a non-smoker or giving up smoking is a key eligibility criterion for candidacy in all surgical procedures.

After Surgery

Continuing to abstain after surgery will improve recovery time and continue to decrease the risk of complications. It is found that by refraining from smoking after surgery – wound healing is improved, the risk of pneumonia is decreased and overall recovery time is minimized.

How to Quit Smoking

Quitting is not easy but the long term results and effects make it completely worthwhile.
For many people going ‘cold turkey’ is the best way for them to give up smoking, without the use of patches or medication. Some find nicotine replacements effective, this is where nicotine can be obtained from a source other than cigarettes, such as nicotine gum, patches, lozenges and nasal sprays. Medication is also an option.
Some patients have successfully used hypnosis and meditation without the use of any patches or gums etc.

Long term, the benefits of continuing life as a non-smoker are enormous, decreasing the risk of cancer, severe breathing problems, heart problems and early death from other causes.

If you would like to speak to one of the team at Bella Vou, please contact us on 01892 257 357

Medically reviewed by

Amir Nakhdjevan Profile

Amir Nakhdjevani

Last Updated: November 4, 2016

Published On: November 4, 2016

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