Why Smoking Complicates Surgery

While the chances of developing a surgical complication or post-operative condition is rare, it is possible for patients to aspirate, develop an infection, or have a bad reaction to anesthesia during their surgery. At Specialty Surgical Center, we specialize in minimally invasive surgeries because they often produce less pain, a shorter hospital stay, less scarring, minimal injury to tissue, and a higher accuracy rate compared to open surgeries. Despite the many benefits of minimally invasive surgery, there is one factor we cannot control when it comes to reducing a patient’s risk of complication: smoking.

Having a smoker’s lung makes it increasingly difficult for patients to be put under anesthesia because the lungs cannot function at their maximum potential. Additionally, although cigarettes are known for their detrimental effects on the lungs, they also negatively impact blood.

Blood is a vital part of healing after surgery, so when it is hindered due to cigarette smoke, the likelihood of a post-operative complication increases. This includes having a blood clot, or worse, a heart attack following a surgical procedure. Having blood that is less healthy due to smoking also affects a surgical incision’s ability to heal.

A study in the Oxford Journals found that people who stop smoking 4-6 weeks before surgery significantly reduced their risk of infection. People who do not smoke 6-8 weeks before their surgery also lower their risk of developing lung-related complications. However, one study found patients who only abstain from smoking for 1-3 weeks prior to surgery did not lower their risk of a surgical complication at all.

Our team encourages those who smoke to quit at least 4-6 weeks before and after their procedure, if not completely. Many patients may have the mindset that they’ve smoked for a long time, so the damage is already done. In reality, the body is always healing and most patients experience tremendous health improvements after quitting. At the very least, we recommend stopping for a few weeks before your surgery to reduce your risk of complications. If over-the-counter products have not helped you quit smoking, please talk to your physician about more effective ways to quit smoking for good.

Specialty Surgical Center is located in Sparta, New Jersey and our staff consists of board certified surgeons and anesthesiologists performing procedures in Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Spinal Care, Podiatry, Urology, Pain Management, ENT, Hand Surgery, Lithotripsy, Brachytherapy, GYN and Laser Surgery.

For more information about Specialty Surgical Center, call 973-940-3166 or visit our Contact Page.