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Quitting Smoking Before Surgery

What are the risks of continuing to smoke before surgery?

If you’re going to have surgery, it’s a good idea to try and quit smoking as early as possible before your procedure. The sooner you quit before surgery, the better. This is because smoking causes a much higher risk of serious complications, both during and after surgery.

If you continue to smoke, you will be more likely to:

  • Starve your heart of oxygen
  • Form blood clots in your veins
  • Find it harder to breathe during and after surgery
  • Increase your risk of infection
  • Impair the healing of bones, skin and wounds
  • Change the breakdown of certain drugs in your body

What can I do if I smoke?

Rest assured that you can greatly reduce these risks by stopping smoking. By quitting, you’ll be more likely to have:

  • A faster recovery
  • Improved wound healing
  • A shorter stay in hospital
  • Less chance of needing intensive care
  • Less chance of needing further surgery

In terms of surgery, cutting down in the weeks before a procedure does not appear to reduce the risks of wound or lung complications.

Quitting completely is the only way to stop and reverse the damage caused by cigarettes.

Smoking After Your Surgery

After surgery, it’s important that you do not start smoking again, even if you only quit 12 hours before surgery.

Smoking makes recovery harder by placing stress on the heart, affecting your blood pressure, reducing oxygen in your blood and body tissues, and damaging your lungs.

Passive Smoking and Surgery

Children and adults exposed to tobacco smoke have more breathing difficulties after having a general anaesthetic drug compared to non-smokers who have not been passive smoking. Children affected by tobacco smoke also have lower levels of oxygen in their blood after surgery.

It’s important for non-smokers to avoid other people’s tobacco smoke before surgery.

Learn more about the dangers of passive smoking

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