Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 29, 2018
When it comes to smoking, we know that it’s easier said than done to kick the habit. Some people find that they are more successful at quitting if they have a specific reason to quit, other than the basic logic of “it’s better for your health.” One reason that pushes people to give up smoking if the prospect of surgery. Quitting smoking can help improve your likelihood of a successful surgery, but once the operation is complete, a lot of people pick the habit back up, thinking the worst is behind them.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, your spine is in a weakened state right after surgery, and you need to be doing everything in your power to help spur spine and surgical site recovery. Smoking greatly hinders this process. Below, we explain why smoking inhibits healing after surgery, and why it’s so important to try and avoid tobacco products after a spine surgery operation.
The Problem With Smoking After Spine Surgery
Previous research has shown that smoking increases a person’s risk of developing an infection after surgery, which is not only painful, but can jeopardize the integrity of your recent surgery as well as your overall health. Smoking prevents healthy, oxygenated blood from flowing as freely through your body to necessary structures. If your recovering spine can’t get this healthy blood as easily, healing times are going to be delayed. This means it will take you longer to walk, run or return to work after surgery.
Infections and delayed healing times are just two of the many reasons why you should avoid smoking after a spinal operation. Smoking can also have negative effects on your specific surgery. For example, smoking can decrease disc height, leaving you susceptible to disc herniations or degenerative disc disease. This means you’re more likely to need a second operation in the future if you continue to smoke after your initial spinal operation.
Smoking and Post-Op Care
We realize that not everyone is going to take this advice, so if you just can’t kick the habit, please consider following other rehab guidelines to give yourself a better chance at a full recovery. Follow your doctor’s post-op instructions about cleaning the incision site, partake in physical therapy, don’t return to activity or work until you’ve been cleared by a doctor, eat a healthy diet and maintain a good weight to avoid overstressing your spine, and avoid drinking alcohol until your doctor gives you the green light.
Smoking after spine surgery can significantly affect your body’s ability to make a full recovery, so please try to kick the habit. Our doctors have worked with plenty of smokers in the past and helped them find a program that puts them in the best position to have a successful surgery. If you are a smoker, bring this up to your spine specialist during the initial consultation, and ask for tips on how to get as healthy as possible prior to the operation. We’ll be glad to work with you in any way we can. If you have questions or want to set up a consultation, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.