Surgery May Be Best Time to Quit Smoking

Post-op anesthesia dulls nicotine withdrawal, researchers believe

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MONDAY, Feb. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Quitting smoking before surgery may be a smoker's best chance to quit for good, new research suggests.

Researchers reviewed existing studies, and found that smokers who quit around the time of surgery may have fewer problems with nicotine withdrawal after their operation than if they try to quit at other times.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may be suppressed due to the medications and therapies commonly used during surgery, the authors pointed out.

There's another good reason to kick the habit before surgery: Nonsmokers, or people who quit smoking before surgery, also tend to have better post-op recovery than smokers, the researchers found. Furthermore, anesthesia is safer and more predictable in nonsmokers due to better functioning of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and nervous system.

"For people who have thought about quitting smoking, the time of their surgery is a good opportunity to do so," study author Dr. David O. Warner, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist, said in a prepared statement.

"Abstaining from cigarettes promotes faster healing and less risk of wound infection, plus the patient may be in an ideal position to avoid some of the problems with nicotine withdrawal and other discomforts associated with quitting. This increases the chance for long-term success with smoking cessation," Warner said.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers advice on quitting smoking.

SOURCE: American Society of Anesthesiologists, news release, Feb. 6, 2006

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