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Quitting Smoking Simplifies Surgical Recovery

Fewer complications, speedier healing awaits ex-smokers, experts say

THURSDAY, Nov. 12, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Want to boost the odds that you'll thrive after surgery and avoid complications?

The American Society of Anesthesiologists has a recommendation: Drop that butt.

Quitting smoking will make it more likely that you'll recover from an operation without anything going seriously wrong, the society says.

"Anesthesiologists are the heart and lung specialists in the operating room, making sure our patients' vital functions are working properly," said Dr. David O. Warner, who chairs the group's smoking cessation task force. "Every year, we care for up to 10 million smokers in surgery. We see the immense toll that smoking takes on a person's body, but we also witness the tremendous benefits patients who stop smoking before surgery experience in their healing process."

The association suggests that surgery provides an ideal opportunity for someone to quit smoking altogether because surgery patients are told to stop for as long as possible before and after their operation.

Surgery-related reasons to quit, the group says, include:

  • You'll heal better after surgery. One study found that half of the people who continued smoking after surgery developed complications; the number fell to 20 percent among those who quit.
  • Hospitals are smoke-free, and it will be tough to leave to light up.
  • Within hours after you quit, your body will begin to heal. Within less than a day, the association says, blood flow throughout the body will get better, boosting the chances of avoiding complications from surgery.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health offer toll-free help to people wanting to quit and more information on quitting smoking.

SOURCE: American Society of Anesthesiologists, news release, Nov. 9, 2009
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