Tobacco Use and Wound Healing

Smoking and wound healing do not go together.  Oxygen is needed for your tissues to heal after surgery.  Tobacco use decreases the amount of blood, oxygen, and nutrients that go to your wound. Nicotine increases the risk of blood clots and decreases the ability of cells to help wounds heal and fight infection.  Any amount of smoking can delay wound healing, even if you only smoke once in a while.

Why Quit Before Surgery?

  • Quitting smoking before surgery decreases risk of wound infections and helps wounds heal more quickly.
  • Quitting 4 weeks or more before your surgery provides the most benefit, but even quitting 1 day before surgery can decrease blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
  • People who smoke may experience more intense pain after surgery.

Tips for Quitting Smoking

  • Have a plan. Set a quit date for all tobacco products. The Great American Smokeout is on November 17 – why not join smokers from across the nation as they quit smoking?
  • Get rid of all tobacco products, lighters, ash trays, and spit cups from your home, work, and car.
  • Stock up on oral substitutes such as gum, hard candy, carrots, or straws.
  • Ask your friends and family to support you.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider for help. Decide if you are going to use medicines to help you quit. You can buy nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches at the drug store. There are other medicines that need a prescription.
  • Avoid being around other smokers as much as possible at first.
  • Change your routine and avoid situations where there is an urge to smoke.
  • Keep busy and active.
  • Drink lots of water or fruit juice.
  • Do something else to keep your hands and mind busy – take a walk, read a book, call a friend.

Helpful Resources

Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669

National Cancer Institute Tobacco Line: 1-877-448-7848

American Lung Association:

Government websites:

November 2, 2016 , , , ,