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Can Smoking Affect Wound Healing?

We all know how smoking can be bad for one's health but did you know that it also has a negative impact on the wound healing process?

Yes, a cigarette contains chemicals that can delay the wound healing process. Below we talk about the chemicals in cigarettes and their impact on the wound healing process.


Nicotine is considered a vasoconstrictor which means that it has the ability to reduce the blood flow to tissues which require healing. Poor blood flow means poor healing.

This can lead to ischemia leading to dead tissue while also reducing the body’s ability to produce new blood cells which are prerequisites to proper wound healing.

Hydrogen Cyanide

Hydrogen cyanide can also affect wound healing because it prevents the enzymes necessary for bringing oxygen to the cells and transporting them between blood and healthy cells thereby disrupting the wound healing process.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is another factor to consider because it keeps oxygen from getting transported to the wound and prevents metabolism from happening, something the cells require so it can get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to heal our wounds.

Apart from these chemicals, smoking also tends to make one eat less healthily, perform fewer physical activities, and drink more alcohol, all of which can have adverse effects on the wound healing process.

It should be noted that the body requires a tremendous amount of energy and calories to heal wounds. Since nicotine is a proven appetite suppressant, smokers are likely to consume fewer calories than they normally would which can lead to delayed and impaired wound healing.

Smoking restricts blood flow

Another factor to consider is the fact that smoking makes the blood thicker or aggregates the blood which means it can’t easily flow through our blood vessels and also remember, it causes temporary vasoconstriction as well.

When this happens, parts of the body that need blood flow wouldn’t get it and with less oxygen in the body, the more difficult it would be for the wounds to heal.

Smoking makes it difficult for the body to fight infections

Smoking has also been shown to make fighting infections much more difficult especially after surgery. Chemicals found in cigarettes have been shown to limit the activity of infection-fighting cells known as neutrophils. Smoking prevents the immune system from functioning properly.

Neutrophils are essential to good health because they help get rid of bacteria before they start wreaking havoc inside the body.

Without neutrophils, infections could set in easily and may even require antibiotics.

Final Thoughts

With all its negative effects, it’s quite clear that the best (and faster) way for wounds to heal is to prevent or stop smoking altogether. By quitting, you are effectively keeping your body clean of chemicals that can hinder the wound healing process.

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