Quit smoking before hernia surgery: What patients need to know?

R S Rengan
3 min readNov 22, 2021


Does smoking make a hernia worse?

A hernia is caused in human beings due to a number of reasons. One of the key reasons for the disease is often smoking apart from sudden weight gain, pregnancy, and strenuous exercise, and heavy lifting. People who smoke regularly are more likely to develop hernias in the course of their life span than non-smokers.

Smoking is harmful to the human body in ways that go beyond diseases as it negatively impacts the way in which the body responds to surgery. Due to this, many doctors even refuse to treat smokers bearing in mind the prevalent complications post surgeries. Dr. Rengan, a senior hernia specialist in Chennai has operated on many smokers with hernias with good results.

While other doctors who treat smokers or conduct surgeries on them decisively ask such patients to stop, or at least reduce smoking cigarettes before and after conducting a surgery.

A human body develops a hernia when an organ or internal tissue pokes through a hole or weakness in the abdominal muscular wall that results in a bulge or swelling.

An operation/surgery to repair a hernia is a regular and routine procedure conducted by expert surgeons. It takes roughly an hour to complete and is done as a one-day case. It can be performed either as an open surgery or through keyhole surgery.

Impact of Smoking on Patients getting Hernia Repair Surgery

In recent years, research has indicated that smokers have a higher risk of surgery-related complications such as heart attack, stroke, shock, and death when compared to patients who do not smoke. Because smoking reduces blood flow, surgical wounds are less likely to heal properly and are more likely to become infections. Smoking also impacts the immune system, making infection more likely after surgery.

Apart from smokers, infection is a rare complication following hernia surgery. Post-operative infections are more common in smokers than in non-smokers.

Smoking reduces the rate at which collagen is formed in the human body. This is due to nicotine’s effect of weakening the abdominal wall of a patient. As per research, due to the impact smoking has on wound healing, patients who smoke are four times more likely to develop a recurrent hernia. To avoid this terrible consequence, Dr. Rengan, senior hernia surgeon, strongly advises patients to quit smoking before hernia surgery.

Recommended time period to quit smoking before hernia surgery:

It is clear that there is a tremendous positive impact if patients quit smoking before hernia surgery. Patients who stop smoking three to four weeks before their hernia surgical repair can expect fewer issues, but even quitting a day or two before various other forms of surgery can make a significant difference too.

Dr. Rengan, one of the best hernia surgeons in Chennai routinely recommends stopping smoking 8 weeks before hernia surgery. He believes that smoking is harmful on many levels to the hernia patient.

Dr. Rengan tells you which systems of smoking damage the hernia patient.

  • Lungs — Smoking often decreases lung capacity making you a poor candidate for hernia surgery. Smoking also causes COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This predisposes you to a hernia and also causes recurrence after surgery.
  • Collagen and tissues — Smoking slows down collagen deposition. This itself can cause a hernia and cause poor recovery after surgery.
  • Aging — Smoking accelerates aging. This can be a major predisposing factor for a hernia.
  • Wound healing — Smoking makes wound healing slower leading to wound infections. This can also cause mesh infections.

Dr. Rengan strongly believes in stopping smoking for a few weeks before surgery and staying away from smoking for as much time as possible after surgery.

Originally published at https://surgeonrengan.com on November 22, 2021.



R S Rengan

Dr ( Major ) R S Rengan MS, DNB, DLS ( France ) HOME OF HEALING SURGICAL CENTRE. General, Laparoscopic and Gastrointestinal surgeon in Chennai, India.