Why do I need to stop smoking if I am having bariatric surgery?

Smokers have a greater risk of having respiratory or breathing problems during and after surgery. Patients should stop smoking for elective cases a minimum of three weeks before to help decrease the risk of pneumonia and other breathing issues after surgery. 
Frank T. Leone, MD
Pulmonary Disease
Anyone who smokes knows they should stop. But quitting smoking is especially important for people considering bariatric surgery. The guidelines for bariatric surgery require people to quit smoking 60 days prior to surgery.

The health consequences of smoking are well known and well documented, but these dangers are amplified for people with obesity. Along with the associated higher risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke, smoking increases the risks associated with surgery, including anesthesia-related complications, infections, heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and death. It also slows down healing time by narrowing blood vessels, restricting blood flow to the surgical site.

Smoking after bariatric surgery puts people at significantly higher risk for a host of complications, such as ulceration of the gastric pouch, gastritis, infection and increased shortness of breath.

However, the health benefits of smoking cessation occur almost immediately and have a long-lasting impact.

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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.