COLOGNE, Germany, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- People who can quit smoking before surgery can halve their risk of poor wound healing, researchers in Germany found.
Peter Sawicki of the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care analyzed current research showing that nicotine replacement therapy can help people quit smoking and avoid complications after surgery.
Nicotine replacement therapy helps reduce withdrawal symptoms when people stop smoking by giving them nicotine through a patch or chewing gum.
The study, published on informedhealthonline.org, said trials showed 14 percent of the patients who smoked had problems with wound healing if they had nicotine replacement therapy at least four weeks before surgery, compared to 28 percent of the patients who did not have nicotine replacement therapy.
"It is not easy to quit smoking just before an operation," Sawicki said in a statement. "But people who smoke are more likely to have complications after surgery than people who do not smoke."
Anesthetics and surgery put a strain on the body's oxygen supply as it is, but smoking further reduces the amount of oxygen that is available in the blood, making it more difficult for wounds to heal -- a process that requires oxygen, Sawicki said.