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Q. Why do I need to quit smoking before having spine surgery?
A. Healing tissues require a fresh and steady supply of blood. Your supply carries needed oxygen, nutrients, blood cells, and other important healing agents to the area. It also provides a way for chemicals, enzymes, and other debris to be flushed away. Smoking puts nicotine in your blood. Nicotine causes blood vessels to become narrower (vasoconstrict) (vase-oh-con-strict), which limits how much oxygen, nutrients, blood cells, and other important healing agents can get through.
Certain parts of your spine, especially in the lumbar area, have naturally limited blood supply. Smoking after spine surgery can further limit the blood supply. This can slow the healing process, and may even lead to other complications during your recovery.
You can maximize your ability to heal by stopping smoking well before surgery and staying smoke-free at least until well after surgery. You may even want to quit smoking permanently. Your doctor can give you some helpful ways to stop smoking.