When Should You Quit Smoking Before Surgery? 

Preparing for surgery is not just about following your doctor’s instructions, but also about setting yourself up for the best outcome. Smoking is a critical factor that can impact surgical outcomes. Smoking has been linked to a wide range of health complications, including delayed wound healing, increased risk of infection, and decreased lung function 1. Quitting smoking before surgery is not only beneficial for physical health but also for mental well-being. Smoking cessation can reduce anxiety, improve mood, and enhance overall resilience, which can be invaluable during the perioperative period 2. As such, many healthcare professionals recommend cessation before undergoing surgery to minimize these risks and optimize recovery 3. But when exactly should you quit smoking before surgery?  

You and your physician should discuss when and how to quit smoking as soon as surgery is scheduled, and ideally, weeks to months before the surgery. The longer the period of abstinence before surgery, the lower your risks tend to be.  

First, for those who smoke heavily or have underlying health conditions, long-term smoking cessation is strongly recommended. Quitting smoking permanently not only improves surgical outcomes but also reduces the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory disorders. Healthcare providers and other clinical services can offer support and resources to help individuals quit smoking for good 2

If you are undergoing elective surgery, you should ideally quiet smoking four to eight weeks before the surgery. This allows for more substantial physiological changes to occur, including improvements in respiratory function and reduction in the concentration of harmful toxins in the body. By quitting smoking during this timeframe, patients can significantly reduce the risk of complications and enhance the overall surgical experience 4. Even if four to eight weeks beforehand is not possible, later cessation can still lead to significant improvements in lung function and circulation, which are essential for optimal healing and recovery 5.  Even a few days of smoking cessation can help improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and enhance lung function. These can all help support the best possible surgical outcomes. 

In addition to when to quit smoking, it is important to discuss your smoking history and cessation efforts with your healthcare provider before surgery. They can provide personalized recommendations and support to help you quit smoking successfully 7,8

Overall, quitting smoking before surgery is a critical step towards having the best possible outcomes. By taking proactive steps to quit smoking before surgery, you can reduce your risk of complications, enhance healing, and ensure the smoothest recovery journey possible postoperatively.  


1. Smoking and Anesthesia – Before & After Surgery | Made for This Moment. Available at: https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/preparing-for-surgery/risks/smoking/. (Accessed: 6th March 2024) 

2. Why you should quit smoking before having surgery. Available at: https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/harmful-effects-tobacco/why-you-should-quit-smoking-having-surgery. (Accessed: 6th March 2024) 

3. Smoking Before Surgery: Risks, When to Stop, and More. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/smoking-before-surgery. (Accessed: 6th March 2024) 

4. Myers, K., Hajek, P., Hinds, C. & McRobbie, H. Stopping smoking shortly before surgery and postoperative complications: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine (2011). doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.97 

5. Quit Smoking before Your Operation | ACS. Available at: https://www.facs.org/for-patients/preparing-for-your-surgery/quit-smoking/. (Accessed: 6th March 2024) 

6. Smoking greatly increases risk of complications after surgery. Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/20-01-2020-smoking-greatly-increases-risk-of-complications-after-surgery. (Accessed: 6th March 2024) 

7. Solberg, L. I., Boyle, R. G., Davidson, G., Anne Magnan, S. & Carlson, C. L. Patient satisfaction and discussion of smoking cessation during clinical visits. Mayo Clin. Proc. (2001). doi:10.1016/s0025-6196(11)63119-4 

8. Farver-Vestergaard, I., Hjorth, P., Pisinger, C., Larsen, P. V. & Løkke, A. A survey exploring the practices of smoking cessation support among hospital-based healthcare providers. BMC Health Serv. Res. (2023). doi:10.1186/s12913-023-09657-4