Many people who smoke have heard the endless chorus of “you should quit,” but unfortunately that is easier said than done. Often the consequences of smoking can be overlooked by smokers because of the addictive properties, but for smokers who are interested in weight loss surgery, quitting is part of the journey. In order to qualify for a bariatric procedure, you must stop smoking before weight loss surgery. Here’s what you need to know about the challenges potential patients might face.
When considering your eligibility for surgery, you will be required to quit smoking 42-30 days prior to surgery. The risks involved with smoking prior to weight loss surgery can be life threatening and negatively impact your surgery and recovery process.
These risks can include:
- Organ space infection
- Prolonged intubation
- Longer length of hospital stay
- Blood clots (the largest cause of death after bariatric surgery)
- Marginal ulcers after gastric bypass
Smoking can also make you ineligible to go through with the bariatric operation. While bariatric surgery is usually considered a minimal risk procedure, it is still a serious surgery and can potentially be dangerous with the added effects of smoking. The risk factors actually increase by 3x-4x the normal average for smokers. Because of this major jump in complication, many surgeons will not perform elective surgery on patients who cannot quit due to concerns for the patient’s safety.
Past the associated health complications with bariatric surgery on patients who smoke, their weight loss journey can also be negatively affected. From exercise to diet, smoking will negatively impact your ability to meet your weight loss plan requirements.
Many smokers have trouble with intense, and in some cases moderate, exercise due to their inability to breathe deeply. This can impact your capacity to formulate an exercise plan you can safely accomplish. Smoking also affects circulation of blood in your body and can cause long-term mobility issues, especially if this is combined with other issues like diabetes.
While breathing and circulation problems are obvious health concerns, something that may get overlooked is the effect smoking has on your tasting ability. Transferring to a new diet can already be difficult, but when you add in the further struggle of differentiating flavors it can become strenuous.
The added salt, fat and sugar in processed food usually makes the taste easier to dissect for many smokers because it is often one note and prominent. The problem with this is many smokers, even if you pick smoking back up after recovery, will find eating healthier foods much more difficult due to the lack of additives and enhancers. This means it will be harder to stick to a diet that will give you a happier healthier body while smoking.
Showing a commitment to your health and your weight loss journey by quitting smoking can demonstrate that you are a great candidate for bariatric surgery. Much like smoking, food and unhealthy lifestyles can become an addiction, and showing that you are willing to put in the hard work to improve your health and life is exactly what surgeons are looking for.
Remember, you aren’t alone in this journey. Here at Riverside Surgical & Weight Loss Center we have a team of highly skilled surgeons and specialists ready to guide you on your way to a happier, healthier you. To talk to our team about your options for weight loss surgery and staying smoke free, schedule a consultation with our doctors today!