The effects of smoking on healing after surgery

Did you know 19% of all adults in Great Britain smoke? That is just under 1 in every 5 people. 20% of all adult men and 17% of women smoke. This makes a total of 9.6 million smokers in Great Britain! Smoking is a very bad and unhealthy habit. It has been known to cause cancer, decay lungs and cause people to age quicker. Little did everyone know smoking has a negative effect on healing after undertaking a surgical procedure.


Effects of smoking on your body


Before we explain what smoking does to healing we thought we should let you know what it does to your body in general. Smoking impacts your:

  • Circulation – Whilst smoking the toxins from the cigarette smoke enters your bloodstream and makes your blood thicker which increases the chances of a deadly blood clot forming. It also increases your blood pressure and heart rate making your heart work harder than it should.
  • Lungs – Your lungs will be affected the worst by smoking. Coughing, a lower immune system and asthma is just the start of issues caused by smoking. Smoking can cause deadly diseases like pneumonia and lung cancer. 84% of deaths from lung cancer are caused by smoking.
  • Skin – Smoking will reduce the amount of oxygen that is in your skin, this means you will begin to look grey and dull and may age quicker. Smoking prematurely ages your skin by 10 – 20 years, no one wants that.
  • Bones – Smoking causes your bones to become weak and more brittle. It affects women more than men as women are more susceptible to suffer from brittle bones (osteoporosis).

Effects of smoking on healing


As you know the air we breathe is filled with oxygen, the oxygen is needed to allow us to function. However, smoking changes the way our body handles oxygen. It causes your blood vessels to become narrow making it harder for oxygen to pass through them, also making it difficult for oxygen to get to the tissue which needs it.

It also causes blood to thicken, this means it will not flow as easily, especially to the wounded areas. This will cause the wounds to heal a lot slower.

Smoking also makes it very hard for your body to fight off infections after surgery. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes limit the cells which fight off infections. Smokers have been known to have four times the risk of infection than non-smokers.


What our surgeons recommend


We recommend that you stop smoking two to three weeks before your procedure to ensure you will be safe whilst under anaesthesia. After the procedure we recommend you wait four weeks before you start to smoke again, this is if you wish to start again. It is so your body can heal properly; if you smoke during your healing period not only will the healing be prolonged but you will swell and bruise more than non-smokers.

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