Why You Should Quit Smoking Before Surgery

Smoking and Surgery


To quit smoking in general is difficult but quitting before surgery, and continuing to refrain post-surgery, can make dramatic differences to your recovery and is one of the most beneficial changes any patient can make. Giving up the habit is a smart decision no matter what the circumstances are as there are so many positive impacts to your health. It can also significantly decrease the risk of complications for patients during and after surgery. Smokers are forever being inundated with information about the health risks of smoking, however, the benefits to your health by quitting prior to surgery are immediate and substantial.


When to Quit Smoking Before Surgery


With each passing smoke-free day the overall risk of complications lessens. The earlier a smoker can quit, prior to surgery, the better. Even 12 hours prior to surgery, patients have noticed a difference when abstaining from smoking. Mr Ross advises his patients to have stopped smoking for a minimum of 6 weeks prior to surgery and quitting smoking for this long will have dramatic effects on your health and recovery.

8 weeks before surgery: the risk of clot related problems decrease (i.e. heart attack and stroke), the body’s immunity will improve which decreases the risk of infection and the response to anaesthetic medications also improves.

3 weeks before surgery: the wound healing time is quicker.

2 weeks before surgery: less breathing problems will occur during surgery.

12 hours before surgery: improved oxygenation, blood pressure and heart rate.


A smoker’s cough can disrupt the abdominal healing of a tummy tuck, breast reconstruction complication rates are significantly increased by smoking and after breast reduction, healing of surgical wounds can be impaired. Smokers undergoing facelift procedures are 13 times more likely to experience skin necrosis compared to non-smokers. They also face a higher risk of a hematoma (bleeding) after surgery.

In general, being a non-smoker or giving up smoking is a key eligibility criterion for candidacy in all surgical procedures.


After Surgery

Continuing to abstain after surgery will improve recovery time and continue to decrease the risk of complications. It is found that by refraining from smoking after surgery – wound healing is improved; the risk of pneumonia is decreased and overall recovery time is minimized.


How to Quit Smoking

Quitting is not easy but the long-term results and effects make it completely worthwhile. For many people going ‘cold turkey’ is the best way for them to give up smoking, without the use of patches or similar products. Some find nicotine replacements effective, this is where nicotine can be obtained from a source other than cigarettes, such as nicotine gum, patches, lozenges and nasal sprays. 

Long term, the benefits of continuing life as a non-smoker are enormous, decreasing the risk of cancer, severe breathing problems, heart problems and early death from other causes.


Mr Ross always discusses the pros and cons of surgery with his patients, and if you are a smoker Mr Ross will be very clear on when you need to stop smoking before surgery, and if you want to carry on smoking after you have had surgery he will make it clear when it is safe to do so. To discuss any cosmetic surgery options with Mr Ross, book in for a consultation.

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BMI Alexandra
Mill Lane, Cheshire SK8 2PX
The Christie Clinic
550 Wilmslow Road
Manchester, M20 4BX