Orthopedic Surgery, Pain Management, Patient Information
January 11, 2019
Why You Need to Quit Smoking Before Your Surgery
You already know that smoking is bad for you, and that your body will benefit from quitting. But did you know that whether or not you smoke can make a huge impact on the surgical procedures you receive?
If you are considering undergoing joint surgery at Arkansas Surgical Hospital, it’s important that you stop smoking, or at least reduce the habit. Your general physical health is critical to how well your surgery goes, and in some cases, quitting smoking can reduce—or even eliminate—the symptoms that are making you consider surgery.
How Smoking Affects Your Joints & Spine
If you are experiencing joint problems, quitting smoking may help reduce the pain you feel. Smoking can cause swelling and discomfort in your joints, increasing the symptoms of arthritis and other painful joint issues. Smoking also weakens your immune system, making you more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Another effect of smoking on your body is decreased bone density, which makes your joints more susceptible to wear and tear. This, along with the diminished bone healing experienced by nicotine users, makes it more difficult for your body to successfully accept a new joint implant. As a result, it’s much more likely that you will need additional surgeries to correct any problems that arise from your weak joints.
Smoking also decreases blood flow, which has numerous impacts on the way your body works. For example, decreased blood flow to disc tissues increases the rate of spinal disc degeneration.
How Smoking Affects Your Surgical Procedure
Smoking makes your blood thicker, increasing the chances of dangerous clots. Nicotine makes it more likely that your heart and the rest of your body won’t be able to receive the oxygen they need to keep you going. Finally, lung damage caused by cigarette smoke can make it more difficult for you to breathe during surgical procedures.
How Smoking Affects Your Recovery from Surgery
Smoking can have a significant impact on how quickly you heal. The reduced blood flow caused by smoking slows down your healing, making your surgical incision—and the rest of your body—more susceptible to infection. And since your immune system is weaker than that of a non-smoker, you are even more prone to infections.
Being a smoker also increases the chance that you will have noticeable scarring at the site of your incision. While scarring is typically reduced with minimally invasive techniques, the slow healing experienced by smokers is more likely to result in heavier scars.
Because of smoking’s effect on your lungs, you are more likely to have breathing problems after your surgery. This could lead you to become temporarily reliant on a ventilator—and in some cases, it can also lead to pneumonia.
How Quitting Can Help
Even if you aren’t planning on undergoing a surgical procedure, ending or at least reducing your smoking habit is the right choice for your health. The benefits of quitting are clear—and the sooner you quit smoking, the more benefits you’ll see: in the operating room, during your recovery, and beyond.