Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It has a profound effect on the body’s function, especially during and after any surgical procedure. While it is by no means easy to quit smoking, it is important that a patient stops smoking as soon as they find out that they need surgery.
One of the most dangerous effects of smoking before a surgical procedure is the narrowing of blood vessels. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body and can cause surgical complications including heart attack and stroke. Amazingly, patients who have quit smoking have seen a reversal of many of the effects of smoking very quickly – within days or weeks.
Smoking poses significant risks to a safe recovery after surgery for similar reasons as mentioned above. In fact, the very same vascular narrowing caused by smoking inhibits the body’s ability to effectively heal and fight infection. The circulatory system transports oxygen throughout the body and major organs, and as a result, good circulation means swifter healing. Narrowed blood vessels reduce circulation in the body and make it harder to fight infection.
Over the long-term, other than smoking’s proven carcinogenic properties, this habit begins to restrict lung capacity, which, in turn, makes it more difficult for the patient to stick to an appropriate exercise regimen. Proper exercise is critical to recovery and long-term health for any patient, but it is especially important for bariatric surgery patients looking to lose weight. While some may believe that smoking is an appetite suppressant, the sedentary lifestyle that it causes, more than negates any appetite suppression benefits.
We all know the negative effects of smoking on the body and its long-term dangers. More immediately, however, smoking can cause a plethora of complications and the risk of permanent injury or death before, during and after a surgical procedure.