Previous clinical studies have shown that the incidence of postoperative wound complications is higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.
In this study, a research team from Copenhagen, Denmark, evaluated the effect of abstinence from smoking on incisional wound infection.
The researchers included 78 healthy subjects in the study. Of these 48 were smokers, while 30 had never smoked.
|Wound infection rate:|
- smokers = 12%
- never-smokers = 2%
|Annals of Surgery|
Subjects were followed for 15 weeks.
During the first week of the study, the smokers smoked 20 cigarettes per day.
The team then randomized the smokers to 1 of 3 treatments. They either continued smoking, abstained with a transdermal nicotine patch (25 mg per day), or abstained with a placebo patch.
After weeks 1, 4, 8, and 12 weeks, incisional wounds were made lateral to the sacrum to excise punch biopsy wounds.
The team made identical wounds in 6 never-smokers. In 24 never-smokers a wound was made once.
All wounds were followed for 2 weeks for signs of complications.
The researchers evaluated a total of 228 wounds.
The research team found that the wound infection rate was 12% in smokers, compared with 2% in never-smokers.
Furthermore, the team determined that infections occurred less in abstinent smokers, compared with continuous smokers, at 4, 8, and 12 weeks after randomization.
The researchers were unable to identify any differences between subjects with the transdermal nicotine patch and the placebo.
Dr Lars Tue Sorensen's team concluded, "Smokers have a higher wound infection rate than never-smokers and 4 weeks of abstinence from smoking reduces the incidence of wound infections".