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Smoking and surgery


Many smokers have become dependent on the stimulating effects of nicotine. These include, boosting your mood, improving short-term memory and concentration, and producing a sense of well-being.

Quitting smoking and other tobacco products before surgery can make the results of your hip surgery better.

Many people who smoke would like to quit smoking. In fact, it's common for people who have quit smoking to have made at least one unsuccessful attempt to quit in the past. Try not to view past attempts to quit as failures, but rather as learning experiences.

There are many reasons to quit using tobacco

When used over a long period, tobacco and related chemicals such as tar and nicotine can increase your risk of many health problems.

Heart and blood vessel problems:

  • Blood clots and aneurysms in the brain, which can lead to strokes
  • Coronary artery disease, including chest pain (angina) and heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor blood supply to the legs
  • Problems with erections


  • Lung
  • Mouth
  • Larynx
  • Esophagus
  • Bladder
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Cervix

Lung problems:

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Hard-to-control asthma

Some smokers will switch to smokeless tobacco instead of quitting tobacco completely. However, they still carry a number of health risks:

  • Increased risk of mouth or nasal cancer
  • Gum problems, tooth wear, and cavities
  • Worsening high blood pressure and chest pain

Smoking and hip replacement surgery

After hip replacement surgery, there is an increased chance of blood clots forming in the legs. These clots may travel to the lungs. Smoking increases the chance of these clots forming.

Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches the cells in your surgical wound. As a result, your wound may heal more slowly and may become infected.

Smoking also decrease bone healing and can take longer for your implant to be secure, or it may loosen prematurely.

All smokers carry an increased risk for heart and lung problems. Even when your hip replacement surgery goes smoothly, it places more demand on your body, heart, and lungs.

Making the decision to quit

Most doctors want you to stop cigarettes and tobacco at least 4 weeks before your hip replacement. The key is to not be discouraged, even if you have smoked for a long time. Stretching the time between quitting smoking and your surgery out to 10 weeks or more can decrease your risk of problems even more.

Quitting tobacco isn't easy, and it's harder if you are acting alone. There are many ways to quit smoking and many resources to help you. Family members, friends, and coworkers may be supportive or encouraging.

  • Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation medicines.
  • If you join smoking cessation programs, you have a much better chance of success. Such programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites.

Using nicotine gum around the time of surgery is not encouraged. The nicotine will still interfere with healing of your surgical wound and have the same effect on your general health.

Quitting tobacco can also save money. You can calculate the amount of money that you can save every month or year by stopping cigarettes and tobacco. The money that you save can be used for other hobbies or interest.

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Review Date: 12/31/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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