Clearing the Smoke Around Joint Replacement

Did you know the risks of complications after a total joint replacement are increased for smokers?

  • The infection rate is six times higher in smokers than in non-smokers.
  • The rate of blood clots and wound complications is significantly higher in smokers.

However, If you stop smoking four weeks before joint replacement surgery, you can reduce your risk of complications by 41%!  On average, each week you are able to avoid tobacco; your risk of complications goes down by 19%. If you eliminate nicotine, the blood flow to your skin returns to normal in two weeks, allowing more normal surgical wound healing.

If you are also able to avoid smoking for two weeks after surgery, your wound healing complications are significantly reduced.  In addition, some prostheses are not cemented into place.  For long-lasting success, they require your own bone to grow into the prostheses.  That would require at least six months of smoking cessation after surgery to optimize your chance of a successful joint replacement.

If you decide that stopping smoking is the right thing for you to do, up to 22 percent of people who stop in order to undergo a joint replacement never go back to smoking.

So if you are considering a joint replacement surgery, please seriously consider stopping smoking four weeks before surgery and do not smoke at least two weeks after surgery.  You can consult with your orthopedic surgeon and your primary care provider for ideas and options for smoking cessation.

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