Many patients wonder- what is the big deal about smoking after surgery? The main issue surgeons worry about is how smoking decreases the blood supply to the affected area and can lead to skin necrosis.
Although skin necrosis is rare, smokers have at least a 12x higher risk of complications. The most common complication for a smoker after surgery is a higher rate of infections. The Center for Surgery at Birmingham Veterans Affairs Hospital performed a study on the healing process of smokers. They studied more than 350,000 patients, comparing smokers and non-smokers. The results showed that smokers had a higher incidence of infections at the incisions and development of postoperative pneumonia.
So what is a patient to do? The recommendation is to avoid smoking 4 weeks prior to a procedure and 4 weeks afterwards. Keep in mind that second hand smoke can have negative consequences as well.