— Not an actual physician

Nicotine and Surgery

If you’re preparing for joint replacement surgery and use nicotine, there are a few things you might want to consider.

Nicotine is a major risk factor in surgical complications such as infection, pneumonia, stroke, and even death.2 It can impair bone and soft tissue healing, and contribute to wound complications and blood clots.2,3 If you smoke or use other forms of tobacco, your doctor will likely encourage you to stop at the earliest possible date before your surgery.

Quitting nicotine before surgery

Quitting can be challenging, but nicotine can contribute to delayed bone and soft tissue healing, as well as increasing your chances for complications during and after surgery.2,3

Any type of tobacco use (smoking, vaping, nicotine gum, chewing tobacco, and patches) presents the following risks as potential complications during your surgery:

  • Smoking produces a significant amount of mucus in your lungs. The anesthesiologists may have to work even harder to keep your lungs clear and filled with oxygen.1
  • After your surgery, poor lung function raises the risk of you developing pneumonia.1
  • Smoking compromises your circulation, putting you at greater risk for heart problems during or after surgery.1

Quitting nicotine products before your surgery and staying tobacco-free after is reported to help decrease the possibility of complications and contribute to a successful recovery.1-3 If you need some help to quit or you do not plan to stop your tobacco and nicotine use prior to surgery, contact your surgeon. If you continue to use nicotine products up until your surgery, it’s possible that your doctor will decide to cancel your surgery.

Another free resource to help you quit is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

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  1. (n.d). Risks – Smoking. American Society of Anesthesiologists. https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/preparing-for-surgery/risks/smoking/
  2. Preidt, R. (2017, Mar 16). Smokers Prone to Problems After Joint Replacement. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/news/20170316/smokers-prone-to-problems-after-joint-replacement-study#
  3. A Successful Hip or Knee Surgery Depends on You Quitting Smoking (2019, Sep). American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. https://hipknee.aahks.org/a-successful-hip-or-knee-surgery-depends-on-you-quitting-smoking/

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