You have no doubt heard of the negative consequences of smoking. Besides causing cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis, smoking can lead to a hernia and lower your chances of a successful recovery after hernia surgery. If you have a hernia or have a high risk of developing one, it’s necessary to stop smoking as soon as possible.
You stand a higher chance of developing an incisional hernia after any abdominal surgery if you are a smoker. Why is smoking such a risk if you have a hernia? How can it increase the chances of developing a hernia? This blog will answer these questions and more.
- What is an Incisional Hernia?
- The Risks and Complications of an Incisional Hernia
- How Does Smoking Increase Your Chances of Developing a Hernia?
- Why Is it Risky to Smoke After Hernia Repair Surgery?
- When Should You Quit Smoking If You Need for Hernia Repair?
- Expert Hernia Treatments
What Is an Incisional Hernia?
A hernia occurs when your organs push against your abdominal walls until they break through. An incisional hernia is a collection of tissue that protrudes from a surgical wound. Any abdominal incision can cause a hernia, especially if you do not take special care while recovering. There is a higher chance of developing an incisional hernia 3-6 months after your surgery.
Certain factors that can weaken your abdominal muscles include strenuous exercise, pregnancy, weight fluctuations, and smoking. It is essential that you avoid these things as you recover from your abdominal surgery. Smoking during your recovery is especially harmful to your wound. If you develop an incisional hernia, it won’t go away by itself. You will need hernia surgery to repair it.
The Risks and Complications of an Incisional Hernia
An incisional hernia is life-threatening when it becomes strangulated, resulting in tissue death in your intestine. A small incisional hernia won’t cause tremendous damage, but it tends to grow. As an incisional hernia gets larger, it causes severe pain and discomfort. Pain and swelling are signs that your incisional hernia needs urgent medical care.
An incisional hernia can become a complex hernia. A complex hernia requires a more specialized type of abdominal surgery. Each failed attempt to repair a hernia worsens its condition. Smoking is also a risk factor if you recently had abdominal surgery and could be the reason you develop a hernia.
How Does Smoking Increase Your Chances of Developing a Hernia?
A hernia occurs because of weak or damaged abdominal muscles. There are many health consequences of smoking that contribute to damaged abdominal tissue.
Smoking Causes Chronic Coughs
Smokers often develop chronic coughs that put pressure on their abdominal walls, increasing the chances of a hernia. Chronic coughing is the primary symptom of pulmonary conditions, such as emphysema and bronchitis. If you have a continuous cough, you are at risk of damaging your abdominal muscles and developing a hernia.
Smoking Affects the Collagen in Your Body
Nicotine and other chemicals degrade collagen production. These chemicals are not only in cigarettes, but are also in cigars, smokeless tobacco, and electronic cigarettes. Collagen strengthens the muscles in your abdominal wall. Since your abdominal wall holds vital organs in place, your muscles need to be as strong as possible. If your body does not produce enough collagen, it is easy for organs to break through your abdominal wall and cause a hernia.
Why Is it Risky to Smoke After Hernia Repair Surgery?
In addition to causing a hernia, smoking can complicate your recovery after hernia surgery. Hernia specialists will recommend that you quit smoking before and after your surgery. This precaution is to ensure you have a smooth and speedy recovery. Here are a few ways that smoking impacts your recovery after hernia repair.
Restricts Blood Flow
Proper blood circulation is essential when your body heals a wound. Smoking can make it difficult for your body to heal since it restricts adequate blood flow. Your body sends blood to the site of a wound to heal your tissue. Blood is a critical element of your body’s healing ability. Smoking prevents a healthy blood supply from flowing to your hernia site and puts you at risk of infections and other fatal consequences.
Results in Chronic Coughing
As mentioned before, chronic coughing weakens your muscles and makes you prone to a hernia. However, if you are recovering from hernia surgery, chronic coughing puts unnecessary strain on your abdominal muscles. This strain makes it more difficult to heal and makes it easier for your hernia to return.
Weakens Muscle Walls
If you smoke, it is more likely for your hernia to return after surgery. As mentioned, smoking restricts blood circulation and slows down the healing process. Recovering too slowly makes hernia surgery less effective. If you can’t heal quickly enough after your surgery, your muscles weaken, allowing the hernia to return.
Each time you have hernia surgery, the procedures become less effective. The best time to target a hernia is the first time. Therefore, you must take care of your body and allow it to heal after your first hernia repair.
Slows Down Collagen Production
Just as blood is essential for healing, so is collagen. It strengthens your muscle and tissue so you can heal quickly and properly. Without the right amount of collagen, it can take much longer to recover.
When Should You Quit Smoking If You Need Hernia Repair?
Of course, the best time to quit smoking is now. Even if you don’t have a hernia, smoking can increase your chances of developing one, especially if you are prone to weak abdominal muscles or recovering from abdominal surgery.
However, if you already have a hernia and are scheduled for surgery, you should quit smoking 1-2 months before surgery. Depending on the condition of your hernia, your surgeon may ask you to quit smoking sooner.
Expert Hernia Treatments
There are two main ways to treat a hernia. These methods are open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. The correct hernia repair technique will depend on the severity of your hernia. Sometimes your hernia does not need treatment.
If your hernia is small and does not cause pain and discomfort, you can wear an abdominal binder instead of undergoing surgery. However, if your hernia continues growing or becomes painful, the only way to repair it is through surgery.
Here at Orange County Robotic General Surgery, Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD, specializes in hernia repair surgery. He offers open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. Both procedures can repair your hernia and strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Dr. Khosravi recommends for you to stop smoking sometime before your hernia surgery to increase the chances of a successful recovery. Just as you shouldn’t resume physical exercise immediately after a surgical procedure, you should not resume smoking.
Contact Orange County Robotic General Surgery at (714) 541-4996 to request a consultation with Dr. Khosravi. He has many years of experience with hernia repair and can provide more information about smoking and hernia repair.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.