However, cigarette smoking has been proven to increase the risk of complications across a wide variety of surgical procedures, from life saving surgeries to cosmetic procedures like facelifts. “Compared with nonsmokers, smokers who undergo surgery have longer hospital stays, higher risk of readmission, are more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, and have an increased risk of in-hospital mortality,” write the British researchers who authored the study.
Surgeons know that surgery is riskier for smokers, but nobody is certain how long it takes for cessation of smoking to translate into postoperative benefits. This latest study challenges the old assumptions that one could quit smoking several weeks before surgery and thereby reduce the associated risks.
The study authors call for further research on the effects of only a few days’ abstinence from smoking, since their analysis did not account for the symptoms of short-term tobacco withdrawal over that short a time.