Smokers and non-smokers alike are aware that smoking negatively affects someone’s overall health. What you might not know is how smoking affects if and how you heal after any surgery. Having surgery on your spine portends some specific issues if you are a smoker. Let’s investigate why you need to quit smoking before having spine surgery.
Quitting Smoking Before Spine Surgery Does Help
In fact, only quitting smoking for 4 to 6 weeks prior to surgery will improve your outcome and reduce certain complications.
Remaining smoke free for 3 months after surgery can make a huge difference as well.
Some of the most significant reasons to quit smoking if you are having spine surgery include the following:
Smoking Prevents Healing
Our body needs oxygen flowing through our blood to help us heal post surgery. Our body becomes deprived of the oxygen it needs to repair wounds and causes the narrowing of blood vessels.
Smoking Increases the Risk of Clots
Did you know that smoking thickens your blood? It becomes more difficult to move through our blood vessels. Therefore, there is an increased risk of a blood clot forming in the legs. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, or a pulmonary embolism.
Smoking Raises the Risk of Infection
Our blood contains a substance called neutrophils which fights infections for us. Smoking reduces its ability to fight them off. This can double your chances of getting an infection as well as slowing down recovery, leading to antibiotics, possibly another surgery, and more time in the hospital.
Smoking Increases Inflammation and Even Pain
The toxins found in cigarettes can increase inflammation in your whole body causing swelling. This swelling can increase the amount of pain post surgery.
Additional Risk Factors of Smoking Before Spine Surgery
In addition to the issues listed above, the following is also true for smokers.
- There is a higher risk of pneumonia and heart disease.
- Higher rates of post-operative infection and fluid retention may occur.
- There could be a delay in wound healing.
- There may be higher rate of additional surgery needed.
- Longer hospital stays with higher costs are common.
Insurance Coverage, Smoking, and Spine Surgery
If all this information doesn’t convince you to stop smoking before and after spine surgery, (or any surgery) there is another reason. Many insurance companies will not pay for surgery if someone smokes, and doctors may not schedule surgery if this is the case.
In addition, smokers may pay higher premiums for insurance coverage.
There are many programs and assistance for quitting surgery available now. Take advantage of those opportunities to quit smoking.
Contact Texas Spine Associates at (972) 987-0969 if you are suffering from spine issues and are considering surgery, or request an appointment through our secure online form. We have offices in Arlington, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Granbury, Irving, Southlake, and Weatherford.