Quitting smoking before your operation can improve your recovery.

Nicotine makes surgery more difficult for your body. Stopping smoking before your surgery can reduce the risk of something going wrong afterwards by 60%. It can also reduce the risk of wound problems by 70%.

Smoking and surgery

Nicotine from cigarettes makes your blood sticky.  It reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. Nicotine increases the stress surgery will have on your body.

Stopping smoking before surgery means your heart and lungs don’t have to work so hard. This makes it easier for your body during and after the operation. It improves your chances of a smooth and fast recovery.

By stopping smoking, you can reduce the risk of any complications after your surgery by 60% and wound problems by 70%.

If you stop 4-6 weeks before your operation you will have better results. But it is never too late. Stopping even a few days before your operation is good.

There are a few ways to stop smoking. Lots of people try:

  • Cold turkey: Choosing a day and just stopping.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): This includes patches, chewing gum, lozenges, and inhalators. These treatments provide nicotine, the addictive part of cigarettes. This lets you wean yourself off cigarettes slowly. You can get advice from your local Stop Smoking services or your GP.
  • Champix: This is a tablet from your GP or Stop Smoking service. It works on the nicotine sensors in your brain to block the enjoyment you get from smoking.
  • e-Cigarettes: It is unclear whether e-cigarettes are a risk to your health. Current evidence says they are safer than smoking tobacco. They are used like NRT to help wean you off cigarettes

People are four times more likely to quit if they have support from trained stop smoking advisors. These can be located online or via your GP. Stopping before surgery is an opportunity to stop smoking for good. This provides longer term benefits for your health.

Find your local services via:

  • Set a date to stop. Don’t leave it a week.
  • You will get the most benefit if you can stop 4-6 weeks or more before surgery. If your surgery is sooner, stopping any time before surgery is good.
  • Let friends and family know your plans so they can support you.
  • Avoid temptation. Throw away cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Change your habits to avoid temptation.
  • Tell yourself you’re a non-smoker.
  • Take one day at a time.
  • Never have the odd one.
  • Congratulate yourself.
  • Use local support services!