Is it ok to smoke if I’m having surgery?


If you’re having surgery doctors recommend stopping smoking at least 8 weeks before you have an operation. There are lots of reasons for this, firstly we want you to be healthy, but most importantly smoking can affect how quickly you heal and may mean that you have to undergo extra medical treatment (something that none of us want).

Smoking can affect your immune system, meaning that you may be more likely to get an infection and it can also slow down healing of bones and skin. You could also find yourself dealing with more scar tissue than you expected.

If you are having a general anaesthetic it’s also important to not smoke beforehand. The nicotine in cigarette smoke can increase blood pressure and carbon monoxide levels, meaning you heart has to work harder to get oxygen around your body.  The chemicals in cigarette smoke also make your blood thicker and more likely to clot, adding a potential complication whilst you are being operated on.

Of course, we want you to give up smoking, we all know it isn’t good for our bodies, but if you are having a medical procedure reducing your use of tobacco or giving up smoking will increase your chances of:

  • Having better wound healing
  • Leaving hospital sooner
  • Not needing intensive care
  • Not requiring further surgery
  • Having a faster recovery and getting better quicker

Even if you quit smoking just before your surgery it will still help and continuing not to smoke will allow your body to heal properly and give you a new lease of life.