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Stop Before Your Op

Stop Smoking

The logo for the Stop Before Your Op service.

To reduce surgical complications and improve recovery rates, people who smoke are encouraged to have at least one appointment with our Stop Smoking service.

In some neighbouring counties – people who decline to have a stop smoking appointment may be refused surgery. This is not enforced in Suffolk at the moment.

If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day, you are six times more likely to have post-operative breathing problems. This risk increases the more you smoke and for the length of time you have smoked. There are several reasons for this:

  • Smokers require more anaesthesia for all surgeries
  • Smokers have a higher chance of chest infections after surgery
  • Smokers have slower wound healing
  • Smokers have less oxygen to help aid in healing
  • Nicotine causes issues in the healing process

The sooner you stop before your op, the better!

Stopping smoking at least 8 weeks before surgery can reduce your risk of various complications. If you smoke, you have a 1 in 3 risk of post-operative breathing problems. This can be reduced to 1 in 10 if you stop smoking 8 weeks before your op.

Benefits of stopping smoking before surgery:

  • Reduced risk of complications after surgery
  • Reduced risk of heart and lung complications
  • Decreased wound healing time
  • Increased rate of bone healing
  • Reduced risk of postoperative infection
  • Your length in the hospital may be shorter
  • You’re less likely to die in a hospital


  • Doll R, Peto R, Boreham J, et al. (2004) Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years’ observations on male British doctors. BMJ; 328:1519.
  • National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2019) Smoking cessation in secondary care: NICE pathway. Available from: pathways/smoking-cessation-in-secondary-care
  • Silverstein P. (1992) Smoking and wound healing. American Journal of Medicine ;93:22S–24S
  • Sorensen LT. Wound healing and infection in surgery: the pathophysiological impact of smoking, smoking cessation, and nicotine replacement therapy: a systematic review. Ann Surg. 2012;255(6):1069–79
  • Warner DO. (2006) Perioperative abstinence from cigarettes: physiologic and clinical consequences. Anesthesiology;104(2):356–67.
  • Yoong SL, Tursan d’Espaignet E, Wiggers J, et al. (2020) WHO tobacco knowledge summaries: tobacco and postsurgical outcomes. Geneva: World Health Organization