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Smoking and Wound Healing

Nicotine from inhaled smoke causes the blood vessels which carry blood to your wound to become narrow. Because these blood vessels are narrowed, the amount of blood which is delivered is decreased. The blood contains certain nutrients which are needed to support wound healing. If the blood flow is decreased due to inhaled smoke, this also means the nutrients to heal the wound are decreased. This reduces the body’s chance of healing the wound in a normal manner, or may even cause healthy tissue to die.

Studies have shown that the effects of smoking on blood flow are temporary, and smokers who quit, even if only while they are attempting to heal a wound, may improve their body’s chances.

Smokers say that half the job of quitting is making the decision to quit. It is important to understand the reasons why you smoke, and why you’ve decided to quit. Prepare for quitting by picking a date and start to make plans for how you will cope with not smoking. This may involve using aides which are available from your doctor or pharmacy. If you feel these may assist you, ask your nurse at the Wound Center to help you obtain the information needed to select the one best suited to you. There are also support groups available to help you with quitting. Ask your nurse about this.

Quitting smoking is a learned behavior. It is critical to stay positive during this learning process, and attempt to focus on why you decided to quit in the first place.