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Life in Motion

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking Before Surgery

Health & Prevention

Smoking damages nearly every part of your body and increases your risk for certain complications during and after surgery. M. Kathryn Steiner, MD, a pulmonologist at NEBH, explains that by quitting smoking, you will not only reduce the likelihood of experiencing surgery-related complications, but also improve your overall health and even add years to your life.

Effects of Smoking and Surgery

Research has shown that compared to non-smokers, smokers who undergo total joint replacements have a higher rate of surgical site infections1, require early revisions where patients need to undergo additional surgery to replace original components2,3, experience lung and heart complications leading to longer hospital stays4, and have wounds that take longer to heal5. In addition, anesthesia is safer and more predictable in nonsmokers due to better functioning of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and nervous systems.

When Should I Stop Smoking?

The earlier you can stop smoking before your surgery, the more your risk for potential complications will be reduced. Studies have shown that quitting more than 8-10 weeks before your surgery is most effective in reducing complications6. It is important to note that it is especially important not to smoke on the day of your surgery, and even quitting for a brief period is beneficial.

Need Help Quitting?

There are a number of helpful resources to help you quit smoking. For more information, talk to your primary care doctor or visit or

  1. Maradit Kremers, W.K. Kremers, D.J. Berry, D.G. LewallenSocial and behavioral factors in total knee and hip arthroplasty J Arthroplasty, 30 (2015), pp. 1852-1854
  2. R. Kee, S.C. Mears, P.K. Edwards, C.L. BarnesModifiable risk factors are common in early revision hip and knee arthroplasty J Arthroplasty, 32 (2017), pp. 3689-3692
  3. T. Lim, S.B. Goodman, J.I. Huddleston 3rd, A.H.S. Harris, S. Bhowmick, W.J. Maloney, et al.Smoking is associated with earlier time to revision of total knee arthroplasty Knee, 24 (2017), pp. 1182-1186
  4. R. Duchman, Y. Gao, A.J. Pugely, C.T. Martin, N.O. Noiseux, J.J. CallaghanThe effect of smoking on short-term complications following total hip and knee arthroplasty J Bone Joint Surg Am, 97 (2015), pp. 1049-1058
  5. M. Moller, T. Pedersen, N. Villebro, A. MunksgaardEffect of smoking on early complications after elective orthopaedic surgery J Bone Joint Surg Br, 85 (2003), pp. 178-181
  6. Impact of smoking history on postoperative complications after lung cancer surgery – a study based on 286 cases. Kozub M1, Gachewicz B1, Kasprzyk M1, Roszak M2, Gasiorowski L1, Dyszkiewicz W1.

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