Smoking does more harm to the body than what one could have imagined. From the skin to the blood vessels, smoking can have detrimental health effects. It is for this reason why surgeons often recommend smoking patients to quit this habit before surgery.
What are the effects of smoking on patients having surgery?
Several studies have shown that smoking patients have a higher chance of suffering from surgery-related complications like shock, stroke, heart attack, and even death compared to nonsmokers.
Smoking affects the blood circulation. It slows down the blood flow, which makes the surgical wound less likely to close and heal well. With poor blood flow on the surgical site, there is also a higher chance of suffering from an infection.
Normally, in a healthy, non-smoking patient the body’s immune system helps in fighting the infection. But if you’re a smoker, this body’s defense can be compromised.
How can quitting help?
Quitting smoking before surgery can make a significant difference. In one study, it shows that patients who quit smoking for just one month before surgery had no more complications compared to nonsmokers.
It’s preferable to quit smoking three to four weeks before surgery. However, there are some studies showing that quitting even a week before the procedure can make a difference. Just within a day or two after quitting, the body can bring more oxygen to the cells and blood flow improves.
How to quit smoking?
One of the best ways to do this is to pick a date and mark it on your calendar. If it makes you feel more accountable, you can tell your friends and family about it.
Get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, etc. in your home and workplace. It’s important that once you do this, you start stocking up with oral substitutes like sugarless gum, carrot sticks, and hard candies.
Just like quitting other habits, this may not be as easy as it may seem. You may want to check on nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other drugs that can help or join a non-smoking class.
During this process, it’s very important to have a good support system. If you’re living alone, there are groups that you can join.
Deciding to quit smoking can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make – not just for the surgery but also for your overall health.
At Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville and Cleveland, TN, we help our patients prepare for surgery. If you’re a smoker, we can provide you with resources that can help.