Numerous studies have shown that tobacco smoking is hazardous for one’s health. In fact, it is still the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. Smoking increases one’s chance of developing cancer including those of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and lungs. It also increases the risk of getting heart disease and emphysema, medical conditions that candidates for bariatric surgery are already considered at risk for.

Smoking is a risk to one’s health in general, but it is also considered a serious surgical risk factor. When it comes to undergoing bariatric surgery, smoking can put a patient at a higher risk for experiencing dangerous blood clots or ulcers post procedure – and these are only to list a few.

Effects of Tobacco Smoking on Bariatric Surgery
Research shows that there is a higher risk of surgery-related complications among bariatric surgery patients who have a history or are actively smoking. Compared to non-smokers, they are at higher risk of developing venous thromboembolism, respiratory complications, and delayed wound healing

Venous Thromboembolism
Venous thromboembolism is a combination of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. In one study, researchers found out that those who smoke have a 23 percent increased risk of developing venous thromboembolism compared to non-smokers. The study further shows that the more packs of cigarette a person consumed in a day, the higher is his/her risk of venous thromboembolism.

Respiratory Complications
Tobacco smoking is shown to disrupt the lung function and breathing capacity of a person. There is a link between smoking and respiratory-related complications after bariatric surgery. A study shows that patients who smoke within one year after bariatric surgery are at higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Delayed Wound Healing
Tobacco smoking can affect the speed of recovery. Some of the toxic contents of a cigarette which include nicotine, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide can delay wound healing as it reduces the amount of nutritional blood flow to the operated site. They diminish oxygen transport and enzyme metabolism which are vital for wound healing.

According to bariatric surgeon Dr. Mark Colquitt of Foothill Weight Loss Specialists, the risks of smoking, especially after a gastric bypass or duodenal switch can occur for many years after the surgery.

“We have seen patients who are more than 10 years after surgery have ulcer formation at the connection between the gastric pouch and the bowel. These ulcers can perforate or form a fistula between the pouch and gastric remnant.”

Occasionally, the complications from smoking are so severe that surgery will be required and the bypass may need to be completely reversed. Dr. Colquitt says if a patient is unable to stop smoking, then bariatric surgery will be denied. Nicotine levels are checked prior to surgery and if they are elevated, the surgery will be cancelled for the patient’s safety.

Quit Smoking for a Healthy Recovery
When you schedule a bariatric surgery, you will meet your surgeon beforehand to discuss the preparations for the procedure. If you’re smoking, you will be advised to quit the habit weeks prior to your surgery. This is to prevent surgery-related complications and to ensure healthy and speedy recovery afterwards. The bariatric surgery process involves committing to healthy lifestyle choices, and not smoking is an important part of your healthier future.

At Foothills Weight Loss Specialists in Knoxville, we have our patients’ safety in mind throughout the bariatric surgical process. We help you prepare for a successful surgery through careful assessment of your lifestyle, including your smoking habit.

For more information about surgical weight loss options, or to attend a free bariatric surgery seminar, please call Foothills at 865-984-3413 or visit our seminar webpage.