The New Year is a good time to quit smoking, especially if you are a patient suffering from neurological conditions. Smoking and vaping harms one’s health and surgical recovery. Smokers do not recover as quickly from surgery or a stroke as non-smokers.
A person who smokes and is scheduled for spinal or other surgery, may face more post-surgical complications such as longer healing times and higher chances of infection.
Scientific studies and individual surgeons say that smokers who quit even four weeks prior to surgery and stay smoke-free for a period after surgery, will likely fare better than someone who consistently smokes.
There are numerous options for individuals who want to quit, such as transdermal patches, chewing gum, lozenges, inhalers and sprays.
Smoking plays havoc on the body’s ability to heal quickly and can increase negative surgical outcomes, including impaired wound healing and increased infections. As Culicchia Neurological Neurosurgeon John Steck says, “Smoking is a problem if you are going to have spinal surgery.”
In addition to causing complications as patients recover from surgery, smokers will probably have a longer path to recovery after a stroke, says Culicchia Neurological Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist Dr. Andrea Toomer. Tissues aren’t as healthy in smokers and nicotine constricts the blood vessels so that healing cells are slowed in reaching wounds, she explains.
While smokers face increased risk due to their nicotine habit, their family members who are inhaling secondhand smoke are exposed to health risks. Even if they don’t inhale from the cigarette, their risk is less. but there is still exposure, says Dr. Toomer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, once a person stops smoking, the benefits begin almost immediately. Heart rate drops within minutes. Nicotine levels drop within 24 hours. Days after that, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to that of someone who does not smoke. Coughing and shortness of breath decreases within a month to a year.