Risks of smoking After Bariatric Surgery

Guide to Smoking After Bariatric Surgery: Risks & Rules

After undergoing bariatric surgery, a significant lifestyle change is necessary to ensure the success of the procedure and your overall health. Smoking, in particular, poses several risks and complications which can affect both the healing process and the long-term outcome of your weight loss surgery. It is widely advised that you stop smoking well before your surgery date and continue to abstain from all tobacco products indefinitely post-operation.

Your commitment to smoking cessation is essential due to the negative impact that nicotine and other harmful substances and cigarettes have on your body. Smoking can impair blood flow, which is crucial for proper healing and may increase the risk of surgical complications. Furthermore, the addictive nature of nicotine can conflict with the goals of bariatric surgery, which centers on making healthier lifestyle choices to combat obesity.

Healthcare providers typically recommend that you quit smoking at least six weeks prior to undergoing bariatric surgery. While the temptation to smoke post-surgery might arise, it’s important to resist as smoking can hinder your recovery and the effectiveness of your weight loss surgery. To support this, comprehensive cessation programs and resources are often provided, aiming to help you maintain a smoke-free life for both immediate recovery and long-term health benefits.

Why You Have to Stop Smoking Before Bariatric Surgery

Tobacco use has been directly linked to an array of complications in the surgical environment. As a patient preparing for bariatric surgery, you need to quit smoking well in advance of your procedure. Smoking affects your body's ability to heal and increases the risk of developing serious postoperative complications. Here's how:

  • Wound Healing:
    • Nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow, which is vitally important for the healing process.
    • Poor blood flow makes it harder for your body to repair tissue, potentially leading to longer recovery times and increased risk of wounds not healing properly.
  • Increased Risk of Complications:
    • Smokers are at a higher risk of developing gastric ulcers in both the stomach and the small intestine.
    • Smoking can lead to an increased chance of infections after surgery, including surgical wound infections.
  • Impact on the Outcome of Surgery:
    • High body mass index (BMI) combined with tobacco use can contribute to a higher rate of complications for major surgeries like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.
    • Surgeons may even postpone or cancel the procedure if smoking history is significant, to avoid serious surgical complications.
  • Specifics for Bariatric Patients:
    • Due to changes made to the digestive system during surgery, the risk of problems related to smoking, such as stomach ulcers, is amplified for bariatric patients.

For these reasons, as a potential bariatric surgery patient, your surgeons will strongly advise you to stop smoking. This not only helps to minimize the associated risks but also contributes to a smoother recovery and better long-term health outcomes.

Is Smoking Allowed After Bariatric Surgery?

No, smoking is not allowed after bariatric surgery. Surgeons strongly advise against it due to its increased risks to your recovery and overall health.

How Long After Surgery Can You Smoke?  

Smoking should always be avoided, and consult with your doctor. However, you should wait at least 6-8 weeks before considering any form of smoking. Adhering to a full cessation from smoking is highly recommended for your long-term health and to prevent complications.

What Happens If I Smoke After Bariatric Surgery?

Smoking after bariatric surgery can lead to:

  • Enhanced risk of blood clots and heart disease
  • Potential for lung disease and pneumonia
  • Increased chance of wounds not healing properly
  • Higher mortality rates from complications like heart attack, strokes, and pulmonary embolism

Can You Ever Smoke After Weight Loss Surgery?

While smoking is never encouraged, if you choose to smoke after the initial recovery period, consult your bariatric surgeon for guidance and consider nicotine replacement therapy to minimize impacts. Remember, resuming smoking can lead to a relapse in conditions such as obesity or diabetes and impair blood circulation to vital organs.

Also Read: Things You Can't Do After Gastric Bypass

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