Q: Why should I quit smoking before I have surgery?
A: By quitting smoking, you will not only reduce the likelihood of experiencing surgery-related complications, but also improve your overall health and even add years to your life. The benefits of quitting smoking include:
- Adding six to eight years to your life.
- Reducing your risk of lung cancer and heart disease.
- Saving an average of $1,400 each year.
- Reducing your loved ones’ exposure to second-hand smoke.
Q: Why is it especially important to the anesthesiologist that I quit smoking before my surgery?
A: Anesthesiologists are the heart and lung specialists in the operating room, and they are responsible for the total-body health of patients. Therefore, they directly witness the immense toll smoking takes on a person’s body and must manage smoking-related complications.
Anesthesiologists also witness the tremendous benefits patients experience as a result of not smoking before surgery, and are committed to helping all patients realize these advantages. It is important that your anesthesiologist knows about your smoking so he or she can take precautions to reduce your risk of having problems.
Q: How long before my surgery should I quit smoking?
A: The earlier you quit, the greater your chances are of avoiding surgery-related complications. It is especially important not to smoke on the day of your surgery. Fortunately, the body begins to heal within hours of quitting. Twelve hours after a person quits, his or her heart and lungs already begin to function better as nicotine and carbon monoxide levels drop. It takes less than a day for blood flow to improve, which reduces the likelihood of post-operative complications. We recommend patients abstain from smoking for as long as possible before and after surgery, but even quitting for a brief period is still beneficial.
Q: Is it worth quitting if I decide to do so right before surgery, such as the day before the procedure? Could this have a negative impact on the outcome of my surgery?
A: There is some misinformation with regard to deciding to quit smoking right before surgery. There is no data to support the contention that quitting too close to surgery may cause additional coughing that could impact a patient’s lung function. There also is no evidence of any other negative effects of quitting too close to surgery. If you decide to quit smoking the morning of surgery, it can still reduce the rate of surgical complications.
Q: If my surgery is minimally invasive, do I still need to quit smoking?
A: Smoking will impact your body before and after surgery regardless of the type of procedure you have. We recommend that all surgical patients abstain from smoking for as long as possible before and after surgery.
Q: Before surgery, should I also quit smoking additional substances such as marijuana?
A: It is critical that patients quit smoking all substances before surgery, including marijuana. They can have the same detrimental effects on surgery as nicotine. For example, they can make patients more or less susceptible to anesthetics. The carbon monoxide found in any kind of smoke affects blood pressure, making it more difficult for the blood to carry oxygen.
Please note: Do not be afraid to tell your anesthesiologist if you have been smoking or using other substances before surgery. This information will remain confidential and is important to your care.
Q: Should I quit smoking permanently, or can I resume it after surgery? How long should I wait after surgery before smoking again?
A: Continuing to smoke after surgery greatly heightens a person’s risks of complications, such as infections in the surgical incision. In one study, more than half of patients who continued smoking after surgery developed complications, compared with less than 20 percent of those who quit. Fewer complications means less time in the hospital and a quicker recovery.
Q: What risks will I face during surgery if I do not quit smoking?
A: Smokers require special consideration and treatment when undergoing surgery. The effects of smoking-related diseases increase both anesthetic risks, as well as risks of complications during surgery and recovery.
Conversely, anesthesia is safer and more predictable in nonsmokers due to better functioning of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and nervous systems.
Q: Why is it so important to anesthesiologists that I quit smoking before my surgery?
A: Anesthesiologists are the heart and lung specialists in the operating room who are responsible for the total-body health of patients. Therefore, they directly witness the immense toll smoking takes on a person’s body and must manage smoking-related complications.
They also witness the tremendous benefits patients experience as a result of not smoking before surgery, and are committed to helping all patients realize these advantages. It is important that your anesthesiologist knows about your smoking so that they can take precautions to reduce your risk of having problems.
Q: What is the best way to quit smoking?
A: When confronted with surgery, many patients decide to take stock of their lives and change their behaviors. This defining moment is a great opportunity to commit to quitting, as it will have a significant impact on your quality of life for years to come.
Whether you are preparing for surgery or just thinking about quitting, free help is always available. By calling 1-800-QuitNow, you can connect with trained specialists who will provide advice along with a customized plan to help you quit.