Smoking cessation can prevent wound infection
Just four weeks of quitting smoking offers significant protection from wound infection, researchers say.
Doctors in Copenhagen looked at the healing of an experimental small incision in both smokers and non-smokers. In the smoking group, the participants either continued to smoke or abstained (using a nicotine path or a placebo patch).
The overall wound infection rate in smokers was 12 per cent, significantly higher than the non-smoker rate of two per cent. But the abstinent smokers were less likely to have a wound infection than those who continued to smoke. This effect was apparent after only four weeks of abstinence and did not depend on the use of either a nicotine or placebo patch.
The study suggests that surgeons should impress on their patients the need for giving up smoking before an operation. This study looked at just small experimental wounds. In the real world, after surgery, the effects of smoking on wound healing are likely to be far more detrimental.