We've been hearing it for years, “Smoking is bad for you.” Just like diabetes, it seems that the general public does not understand the reality of smoking's negative effects. Smoking tobacco can result in various forms of life threatening ailments. The Center for Disease Control reports that smoking accounts for nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.(1) Further more, Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels (arteries) and puts smokers at risk of developing peripheral vascular disease (i.e., obstruction of the large arteries in the arms and legs that can cause a range of problems from pain to tissue loss or gangrene).(2)
More and more physicians are beginning to make stronger correlations that smokers fare much worse than non-smokers during the healing process after an operation. The human knee is a unique structure of the human body which heals differently than other parts of the body. There are growing trends and statistics that indicate smokers heal worse after knee surgery than patients who do not smoke. A reason for this is partially due to circulatory problems that can exist due to the use of tobacco (in this case, smoking). Studies are beginning to make small, but steady correlations between bad circulation as a result of tobacco use. Poor circulation is known to negatively affect the healing process of many types of medical operations. Limited flow as well as obstructions to the veins and arteries are known affects of bad circulation. Reuters Health and The American Journal of Sports Mecicine report that in a study, “smokers were less likely to return to their pre-injury level of sport and experienced more pain.”(3)
There are many patients who come in to see the doctors at Healthmark, who are regular smokers. Tobacco-use is a serious factor that we take into consideration before and after surgical processes. It is not uncommon for a doctor to ask the patient to stop using tobacco for an extended period of time to ensure more successful healing after an operation. It is not easy to quit smoking tobacco, but we are certain that patients who abstain from smoking while leading up to any type of surgery, will have better results in the days following surgery.