The Scoop On Smoking from ACSH: what every teen should know about tobacco
slow healing after bone surgery
Having an operation on a bone is a lot like having a broken bone; in both situations, the bone tissue must heal afterward. So you probably won't be surprised to learn that smoking causes slow healing after bone surgery, just as it does in people with broken bones. In one group of patients who had surgery on their wrist bones, complete healing took an average of seven months in smokers, as compared to four months in nonsmokers.
When people have surgery on their bones, the doctors have to cut through soft tissues, such as skin and muscles, in order to reach the bone that they need to work on. These soft tissues need to heal after the operation, just as the bone does. However, soft tissues don't heal as well in smokers as in nonsmokers. Because of this, smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have complications, such as infections, after bone surgery.
Because smoking is associated with poorer healing and increased complications after bone surgery, the doctors who operate on bones (orthopedic surgeons) often ask patients who are going to have bone surgery to quit smoking at least several weeks before the operation.
The American Council on Science and Health is a consumer eduction consortium with a board of 350 physicians, scientists, and policy advisors.