Going into hospital
Quitting smoking before an operation will reduce your chances of complications and speed up your recovery after surgery.
Why quit smoking before going into hospital?
If you are going in to hospital for an operation, it’s strongly advised that you stop smoking as soon as possible.
Giving up smoking before your operation can reduce the risk of complications and improve your recovery.
As soon as you quit smoking your body begins to repair itself. The longer you stay smokefree, the more repair work your body can do.
What are the risks for smokers?
- more likely to develop chest infections and blood clots after an operation
- wounds and scars heal slower and generally a slower recovery
- higher risk of infection than non-smokers
- higher risk of post-operative breathing problems
- more likely to be admitted to hospital in the first place
What problems does smoking cause?
Our lungs are lined with tiny hair-like structures called cilia which move mucus up and out of the air passages. Smoking damages the cilia so they are unable to remove mucus from the lungs. This makes smokers much more likely to develop chest infections, particularly after a general anaesthetic.
Heart rate and blood pressure
The nicotine in cigarette smoke increases the heart rate and raises the blood pressure. During an operation it is particularly important that the heart rate and blood pressure are kept at a safe level.
Smokers tend to have more substances in the blood that can cause it to clot. After an operation the risk of blood clots developing in the legs and lungs is increased – this can be potentially fatal.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke. It moves from the lungs of smokers to their blood and reduces the body’s ability to move oxygen around.
During an operation, smokers’ blood carries less oxygen which can starve the heart and brain and may cause heart attacks and strokes. After an operation, poor oxygen supply will delay healing and increase the risk of infection.
Get help to quit in hospital
In many hospitals across Greater Manchester, there are teams of specialist stop smoking nurses who can help you quit smoking.
When you arrive at hospital, you’ll be asked if you smoke and visited at your bedside by a stop smoking nurse. They will give you one-to-one support and may prescribe you nicotine replacement or stop smoking medication to help you stay smokefree.
Remember NHS hospitals are smokefree sites
If you do not feel ready to quit smoking you should consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches, to make your hospital stay more comfortable.
These are products that can be used to manage nicotine cravings whilst you are in hospital.