how does smoking tobacco affect my surgery?

Smoking has very damaging effects on lung health, which makes it risky to undergo general anesthesia and to have a breathing tube right off the bat. Smoking also has negative effects on heart and artery health, which may result in many dangerous risks and complications during a surgery.

Smoking also raises your risk of having pneumonia, a blood clot, or respiratory failure during and after surgery. 

 

How does smoking tobacco affect my recovery?

Smoking raises blood pressure and constricts your blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to areas of the body that need blood and oxygen to heal.

People who smoke after having surgery have a higher risk of developing an infection at the surgical site and of impaired healing of skin and bones since tobacco smoke weakens your immune system.

 

How long before Surgery Should I quit smoking?

As long as possible! The harmful effects from cigarettes begin to diminish around 12 hours after your last cigarette smoked, which is why you should at the very least "fast" from cigarettes the day of your surgery. Most studies suggest at least 8 weeks without cigarettes is the most effective to reduce complications almost as low as non-smokers. The American College of Surgeons recommends at least 4 weeks without cigarettes.

Many smokers who quit for surgery say they have no cravings in the hospital and have double the chance of staying off cigarettes for good.

 

What are the benefits of quitting for surgery?

Quitting before your surgery and staying quit afterwards can help you...

1. have a smoother surgery with a lower risk of complications.

2. have a lower chance of being put into the ICU after surgery.

3. have a faster recovery with a lower risk of infection or wound healing problems.

4. quit smoking for good!

 

should I use nicotine replacement therapy (nrt)?

NRT can approximately double your chances of successfully staying off cigarettes, but it is most effective if you use it with the help of a doctor or counselor. Shorter-acting nicotine, such as nicotine gum or lozenge, might be especially helpful for cravings around the time of surgery. Ask your doctor about NRT use around the time of surgery, since some surgeons have specific criteria for when you must stop using NRT prior to your surgical procedure.

 

what about E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes do not contain combustible tobacco and are therefore less harmful to use around the time of surgery than regular cigarettes. However, there is a wide variety in the type and content of E-cigarettes sold and used, and we do not have the research to support E-cigarettes as a safe alternative to cigarettes.

 

What about marijuana use around the time of surgery?

[Coming soon...]

 

how should I handle cravings for a cigarette?

Cravings are an inevitable part of quitting smoking. When they arise, find an activity that your enjoy until the cravings passes, such as chewing gum, having a mint, going for a walk around the block, or calling a friend. Using a support program such as a text messaging or website-based cessation program can give you real-time suggestions when your cravings arise.

 

what happens if I relapse?

Unfortunately, relapse is also a common part of the quitting process. Slip-ups will happen, but don't let them get you off track. Forgive yourself and try and identify why you may have slipped. Were you feeling lonely? Stressed? Nervous about your surgery? Try to find other ways to handle these emotions when they arise again.

 

Ask your doctor for help quitting and explore our website for more resources to help you quit for surgery.