“Not smoking before an operation reduces the risk of complications such as infection, disturbances in the healing process, and blood clots by 50 percent,” wrote Peter Friberg, chairman of the Swedish Medical Society (Svenska Läkaresällskapet), in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN) published on Monday.
In the piece, co-written by other surgeons and medical heads, the doctors wrote that operations on Swedish smokers were marred by complications 16,000 times last year.
As well as infection and blood clots, these complications can lead to poor blood circulation and even death, they wrote.
The authors pointed out that half of all the post-surgery problems reported in Sweden are caused by smokers, whose blood systems are weakened by the inhalation of chemicals.
“The good news is that you can halve the risks by stopping smoking in connections with operations,” they wrote.
The doctors explained that 15-20 percent of Swedes still smoke, a figure that includes casual smokers. However, these statistics are not low enough, the doctors added.
As a result, the doctors have announced a plan for an increase in help for those trying to quit, including additional information for smokers coupled with guidance in the quitting process.
They argue that the costs of this programme are just a fraction of the cost that smokers impose on society.
“Patients who stop smoking are the big winners, but it’s also great news for society both economically and in a humanitarian sense,” the doctors wrote.