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Smoking and surgery

Surgery - quitting smoking; Surgery - quitting tobacco; Wound healing - smoking

Quitting smoking and other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, before surgery can improve your recovery and outcome after surgery.

Most people who successfully quit smoking have tried and failed many times. DO NOT give up. Learning from your past tries can help you succeed.

There Are Many Reasons to Quit Smoking

Tar, nicotine, and other chemicals from smoking can increase your risk for many health problems. These include heart and blood vessel problems, such as:

  • Blood clots and aneurysms in the brain, which can lead to strokes
  • Coronary artery disease, including chest pain (angina) and heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor blood supply to the legs
  • Problems with erections

Smoking also increases your risk for different types of cancer, including cancer of the:

  • Lungs
  • Mouth
  • Larynx
  • Esophagus
  • Bladder
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Cervix

Smoking also leads to lung problems, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma harder to control.

Some smokers switch to smokeless tobacco instead of quitting tobacco completely. But using smokeless tobacco still carries health risks, such as:

  • Developing mouth or nasal cancer
  • Gum problems, tooth wear, and cavities
  • Worsening high blood pressure and chest pain

How Smoking Affects Surgery

Smokers who have surgery have a higher chance than nonsmokers of blood clots forming in their legs. These clots may travel to and damage the lungs.

Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches the cells in your surgical wound. As a result, your wound may heal more slowly and is more likely to become infected.

All smokers carry an increased risk for heart and lung problems. Even when your surgery goes smoothly, smoking causes your body, heart, and lungs to work harder than if you did not smoke.

Making the Decision to Quit

Most doctors will tell you to stop using cigarettes and tobacco at least 4 weeks before your surgery. Stretching the time between quitting smoking and your surgery out to at least 10 weeks can decrease your risk for problems even more. Like any addiction, quitting tobacco is difficult. There are many ways to quit smoking and many resources to help you, such as:

  • Family members, friends, and coworkers may be supportive or encouraging.
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines, such as nicotine replacement and prescription medicines.
  • If you join smoking cessation programs, you have a much better chance of success. Such programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites.

Using nicotine gum around the time of surgery is not encouraged. The nicotine will still interfere with the healing of your surgical wound and have the same effect on your general health as using cigarettes and tobacco.

References

American College of Surgeons website. Quit smoking before your operation. www.facs.org/education/patient-education/patient-resources/prepare/quit-smoking. Updated 2015. Accessed October 3, 2018.

Kulaylat MN, Dayton MT. Surgical complications. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.

Yousefzadeh A, Chung F, Wong DT, Warner DO, Wong J. Smoking cessation: the role of the anesthesiologist. Anesth Analg. 2016;122(5):1311-1320. PMID: 27101492 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27101492.

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  • Smoking tips to quit

    Animation

  •  

    Smoking tips to quit - Animation

    You probably know by now that smoking damages your lungs, raising your risk for bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. And, you're probably well aware that lighting up also puts you at risk for many different types of cancers, as well as eye disease like cataracts and premature wrinkles, you know why you shouldn't smoke, it's just the quitting part you can't seem to get past. Let's talk about some helpful tips to help you quit smoking, for good this time. It's a familiar story, one that plays out over and over again among smokers. You vow to quit, and you have every intention of doing it, and then the cravings hit. And you can't think about anything but having a cigarette. You get irritable, and you start putting on weight. You think, Just one cigarette wouldn't hurt, would it? And then, before you know it, you're smoking again. Most smokers have tried to quit, and failed, several times. Even if you've failed before, you can still succeed at quitting. Many people have. You just need to find the technique that works for you. So, here are a few tips that can help. First, set a quit date. Write it down on your calendar and tell a few friends, so you'll be too embarrassed to back out. Before your quit date, throw out every cigarette in your house, car, and office. Also toss every ashtray, lighter, and anything else you need to smoke. Wash your clothes and clean your furniture so you won't have that smoky smell hanging around your house. Next, call your doctor. Ask about smoking cessation programs in your area. Also learn about tools that can help you quit, like medicines that reduce the urge to smoke, and nicotine replacement gums, lozenges, patches, and sprays. And then, plan what you'll do instead of smoking. If you smoke with your morning cup of coffee, drink tea or go for a walk instead. If you need a cigarette to keep your mouth busy, try chewing sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot stick. Stick to places where smoking isn't allowed, like smoke-free restaurants. And finally, reward yourself for not smoking. Put all that money that you would have spent on cigarettes into a jar. And once you've collected enough money, use it to take a trip or buy something you've wanted for a long time. Don't get discouraged. Quitting smoking isn't easy. If it were, everyone would have done it by now. Be persistent, reward yourself for the progress you've made, and keep at it until you finally conquer the urge to smoke.

  • Smoking tips to quit

    Animation

  •  

    Smoking tips to quit - Animation

    You probably know by now that smoking damages your lungs, raising your risk for bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. And, you're probably well aware that lighting up also puts you at risk for many different types of cancers, as well as eye disease like cataracts and premature wrinkles, you know why you shouldn't smoke, it's just the quitting part you can't seem to get past. Let's talk about some helpful tips to help you quit smoking, for good this time. It's a familiar story, one that plays out over and over again among smokers. You vow to quit, and you have every intention of doing it, and then the cravings hit. And you can't think about anything but having a cigarette. You get irritable, and you start putting on weight. You think, Just one cigarette wouldn't hurt, would it? And then, before you know it, you're smoking again. Most smokers have tried to quit, and failed, several times. Even if you've failed before, you can still succeed at quitting. Many people have. You just need to find the technique that works for you. So, here are a few tips that can help. First, set a quit date. Write it down on your calendar and tell a few friends, so you'll be too embarrassed to back out. Before your quit date, throw out every cigarette in your house, car, and office. Also toss every ashtray, lighter, and anything else you need to smoke. Wash your clothes and clean your furniture so you won't have that smoky smell hanging around your house. Next, call your doctor. Ask about smoking cessation programs in your area. Also learn about tools that can help you quit, like medicines that reduce the urge to smoke, and nicotine replacement gums, lozenges, patches, and sprays. And then, plan what you'll do instead of smoking. If you smoke with your morning cup of coffee, drink tea or go for a walk instead. If you need a cigarette to keep your mouth busy, try chewing sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot stick. Stick to places where smoking isn't allowed, like smoke-free restaurants. And finally, reward yourself for not smoking. Put all that money that you would have spent on cigarettes into a jar. And once you've collected enough money, use it to take a trip or buy something you've wanted for a long time. Don't get discouraged. Quitting smoking isn't easy. If it were, everyone would have done it by now. Be persistent, reward yourself for the progress you've made, and keep at it until you finally conquer the urge to smoke.

    Self Care

     
     

    Review Date: 9/3/2018

    Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. 03-12-19: Editorial update.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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