Skip to main content

If you are a smoker facing surgery soon, read this. If you love a smoker who is facing surgery, read this. If you are a smoker who would like another motivation to quit, read this.

In comments recently someone mentioned that they hadn't known about the way that smoking inhibits healing. Since they are knowledgeable, others are likely to need this information as well.

Bones heal more slowly for smokers

The physicians took x-rays of the patients' legs at different times after the ilizarov apparatus was in place so they could assess the rate of healing. They found that the nonsmoking patients formed new bone much faster than the patients who continued to smoke during the study. The average length of time for a nonsmoker to form 1 cm of new bone was 69.6 days, compared with 89.4 days for the smokers. Based on this rate, if a patient needed to form 5 cm (2 inches) of new bone, it would take 10 months for a nonsmoker and 15 months for a smoker. Former smokers also healed slower. Based on their rate of healing, it would take 1 3.6 months for a former smoker to form 5 cm of new bone.

And it's not just bones, either.
Smoking can cause many of the problems listed below.
  • Infection of your wound.
  • Longer and more expensive hospital stay.
  • If you have received a skin graft, it has a greater chance of not attaching as it should or failing.
  • Blood clots may form near the wound.
  • Stitches may come apart, causing scarring.
  • You are more likely to catch a cold or pneumonia due to more mucus in your lungs.
  • Decreased Vitamin C levels.  Vitamin C is needed to help your skin heal.
Why is smoking so bad for healing?
Smoking causes blood vessels to become smaller.  The smaller vessels have a harder time carrying oxygen, nutrients, and healing factors to the wound.  This can cause the wound healing process to take longer.

Carbon monoxide is a poison from smoking that enters your blood cells.  This poison lowers the level of oxygen in your blood.  Oxygen is vital to your healing. It only takes 3 full days of no smoking to get rid of all the carbon monoxide in your blood.  It is vital to quit smoking for at least 3 days before your surgery so that the oxygen can build back up in your blood stream.

It's also possible that it is the dioxin in tobacco smoke that is the villian, and research is testing that, with the hope of finding a medical way to reverse it. From that same link,
Dr. Hsu points out that up to 25 percent of patients who require orthopaedic care are smokers. “Those patients are less likely to be offered a surgical option because smoking is a negative risk factor,”
A longer discussion from patient information about how and why quitting smoking will greatly improve the success of surgery, especially orthopedic surgery but others as well.

Please share this information if you have friends or loved ones who smoke.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site