Quit smoking before surgery, heal faster

September 4th, 2009 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 4 (IANS) People who start nicotine replacement therapy at least four weeks before surgery can halve their risk of poor wound healing, says a new analysis.
“It is not easy to quit smoking just before an operation,” observes Peter Sawicki, professor and director of German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). “But people who smoke are more likely to have complications after surgery than people who do not smoke.”

Poor wound healing is one of the most common complications after surgery. Lack of oxygen can cause poor wound healing. “Anaesthetics and surgery put a strain on the body’s oxygen supply as it is,” explains Sawicki.

“Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that is available in the blood even more, making it more difficult for wounds to heal - a process which requires oxygen,” says Sawicki.

IQWiG has now analysed current research results that show that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help people quit smoking and avoid complications after surgery.

NRT helps reduce withdrawal symptoms when people stop smoking by giving them nicotine through a patch or chewing gum, says an IQWiG release.

Trials showed that only 14 percent of the patients who smoked had problems with wound healing if they had NRT at least four weeks before surgery, compared to 28 percent of the patients who did not have it.

These results were published in IQWiG website informedhealthonline.org.

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