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Why is it necessary to quit smoking before spine surgery?

It is of paramount importance to quit smoking before any surgery, especially spine surgery. There are many reasons. Smoking has been shown to have very negative impact on wound/incision healing. The chance of infection goes much higher since the soft tissues (muscles/ligaments/tendons/skin) do not heal as well. It diminishes one's immune system. It also has been shown to interfere with nerve recovery and nerve regeneration. Simply put, if you have nerve damage going into surgery, there is much less chance of nerve recovery. Moreover, if you are having fusion surgery, it decrease the chance of fusion by up to 500 times! If you are having surgery to remove a herniated disc, it highly increases risk of reherniation and not to mention that the disc just doesn't heal as well. I personally, unless absolutely urgent or emergent, will not operate on patients who smoke and will always have a discussion with them about quitting smoking.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.