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5 ways smoking can impact surgery

5 ways smoking can impact surgery

Most people are well aware that quitting smoking will not only decrease their risk of lung cancer and heart disease but also decrease their chances of developing asthma and even macular degeneration, etc. Few, however, may be aware of just how havoc the habit can wreak when it comes to ensuring successful outcomes from surgeries of all kinds, from cosmetic procedures to appendectomies, hysterectomies and even joint replacement, and so forth. In fact, a recent study found that smokers undergoing knee and hip replacements had an 80% higher chance of requiring repeat procedures due to complications from infections than non-smoking patients.

In addition, smoking has a negative effect on healing for all bone-related surgeries from simple fractures to spinal fusions due to the fact that nicotine interferes with the production of bone-forming cells as well as constricting blood vessels. As a result, most orthopedic surgeons request that patients quit smoking for at least 4-6 months before and after surgery.

In fact, according to a 2014 study on spinal fusions used to treat disk disorders in the neck and the lower back found that 81%-85% of the procedures proved to be successful in nonsmokers as opposed to only 62% of the same surgeries performed on habitual smokers. It also found that “ more than 70% of nonsmokers and those who quit smoking were able to return to work, while less than 50% of those who continued to puff away were able to resume their jobs.

Moreover, smoking negatively impacts the ability of muscles to heal following rotator cuff. Doctors also report that nonsmokers not only have a higher degree of mobility following surgery they experienced less pain than smokers. Smoking can also interfere with anesthesia, and increase the risk of related complications such as pneumonia, strokes and heart attacks during recovery.

This is also true for outpatient procedures including tummy tucks, face lifts and even breast augmentation where nicotine use can interfere with blood vessels’ ability to carry enough oxygen to reconstituted tissue for it to heal properly. In severe cases, patients may even end up losing large amounts of skin due to necrosis.

Remember, hearts and lungs don’t function as well as they should during and/or following surgery of any kind and it may be necessary for patients to be put on ventilators to help them breathe normally. Still, it is important to stress that most (if not all) surgeons would never deny their services to anyone in need of surgery just because they smoke, although they do encourage patients to abstain as long as possible to prevent complications. Even quitting for as little as 1 day to 1 week before undergoing the knife can help. In fact, depending on the procedure, some even acknowledge that quitting, even for short terms, can cause added stress in the short term.

Still, it is important to stress that most (if not all) surgeons would never deny their services to anyone in need of surgery just because they smoke, although they do encourage patients to abstain as long as possible to prevent complications. Even quitting for as little as 1 day to 1 week before undergoing the knife can help. In fact, depending on the procedure, some even acknowledge that quitting, even for short terms, can cause added stress in the short term.

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