5 Threatening Effects of Smoking on Surgery

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in side effects

The 3 Week Diet

Tobacco may provide you a temporary boost in mood but its long-term effects are very devastating. Majority of people who smoke for several years end up developing hard-to-cure illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, COPD, etc.

But the worse effects of smoking don’t end there. People who have been smoking for a long period of time are at risk of developing serious complications once they undergo surgery, particularly hip and knee replacement. Why?

1) Blood clotting. After a surgery, there is an increased chance of blood clot forming in the affected area. Smoking even raises the risk of blood clotting. It’s because the chemicals in tobacco disrupt blood flow, making it hard for the oxygen to travel through the body.

2) Delayed healing. Blood flow plays a critical role in wound healing after a surgery. But smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the wound, hampering the healing process. Also, it prevents the nutrients that are needed for healing.

3) Serious complications. Smoking puts a person at risk of developing serious complications after undergoing surgery. Research has shown that smokers are more likely to suffer from complications and die immediately after surgery. They are also more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

4) Long period of hospitalization. Smokers who undergo surgery are more likely to stay in the hospital than non-smokers. One in three smokers experiences post-operative breathing problems. Since one function of anesthesia is to reduce coughing and spasms during surgery, people who smoke are in need of more anesthesia than those who don’t smoke.


5) Increased risk of post-operative pneumonia. Smoking damages the cilia in the lungs, which are responsible for clearing mucus. Because of this, smokers have a higher chance of developing post-operative pneumonia which makes their condition worse.

There’s mounting evidence that quitting smoking before surgery has plenty of benefits. Stopping the habit a few months or years before any major surgical operation could significantly reduce the risk of developing lung, heart and wound-related complications. It also speeds up recovery, reduces bone fusion time after a fracture repair, and reduces the period of stay in the hospital.

Of course, this is an addition to the long-term benefits of quitting smoking which is lowered risk of cancer and premature death.

When is the best time to quit?

There’s a debate on when should a person quit in preparation for a surgery. There’s a claim that stopping immediately before a surgery may increase lung complications. But experts agree that smoking anytime before the surgery is beneficial and that smokers should refrain from lighting up on the day of surgery to avoid or prevent breathing problems during the procedure.

It is important that the patient undergoing surgery inform the doctor about his or her smoking habits. Undergoing smoking cessation program before surgery could increase the likelihood of success of the procedure.




Previous post:

Next post:

Click here to subscribe to my mailing list