If you come to the hospital for surgery and smoke, we recommend that you stop smoking as soon as possible, as this will help you get the best possible recovery.

Watch our short video to learn why quitting smoking before surgery can have a significant impact on your recovery and reduce your risk of complications:

Why is it important to stop smoking before surgery?

Non-smokers are less affected by anesthesia after surgery. They usually heal faster than smokers, with fewer complications and surgical scars are more likely to heal faster.

Quitting smoking before surgery can reduce the risk of complications and improve recovery

As soon as you quit smoking, your body immediately begins to recover

The longer you can stand, the more repairs your body can make.

Studies show that smokers spend an average of two days longer in the hospital after surgery than non-smokers.

What are the risks for smokers?

  • Smokers are more likely to have chest infections and blood clots in their legs or lungs after surgery. Their wounds will heal more slowly and generally more slowly. They may also be at higher risk of infection than non-smokers.

  • Smokers have a one-third risk of postoperative respiratory problems.

  • Smokers are twice as likely to be hospitalized in the first place.

  • Smoking can also contribute to the development of postoperative lung and heart problems.

  • Complications associated with wound healing are 12 times higher in smokers.

What problems does smoking cause?

Chest infections

Our lungs are covered with small, hairy structures called lashes. Under normal circumstances, these lashes remove mucus from the upper and air passages. Smoking causes paralysis of the eyelashes, so they can not remove mucus, dust or dirt from the lungs. This increases the likelihood that smokers will develop chest infections, especially after general anesthesia.


Nicotine in cigarette smoke increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. Maintaining a safe heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure during surgery is especially important.

Blood clotting

Smokers have high levels of substances in their blood that cause them to clot. This means that the blood in the smoker’s body tends to clot faster than in non-smokers. There is an increased risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs after surgery – this can be potentially fatal.


This is a toxic gas contained in cigarette smoke. Passes from the lungs of smokers into the blood, reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. This can affect the body in many ways, including increasing the risk of serious heart attacks, strokes and stomach ulcers. During the operation, the blood of smokers carries less oxygen than the blood of non-smokers; it starves the heart and brain and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Poor oxygen supply to the wound after surgery will delay healing and increase the risk of infection.

What to do

The wisest thing to do is to quit smoking completely as soon as possible. Northampton General Hospital is a non-smoking area. If you are not ready to quit smoking, you should consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as a patch to make your stay in the hospital more comfortable and also safer. These are products that can be used instead of smoking for a short time while in the hospital.

The longer you stop smoking before the operation, the better, but it is important to be on the NRT before coming to the hospital.

Get advice and support to quit

Expert counselors are available to provide you with individual or group support at various locations and can advise you on the range of nicotine replacement therapy available. If you’ve tried before and haven’t been able to succeed, don’t worry, it can often stop for good several times! Call the NHS Smoking Cessation Service to find out the times of the week and where to contact smoking cessation support and to book your place. 0300 123 1044 or fill out the online form Contact us website section. Did you know … your local doctor or pharmacist can also offer support for smoking all of a sudden.