Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes and e-cigarettes have all been shown to negatively influence healing and worsen medical conditions in many parts of the body. This is due to nicotine, a chemical in these products. These effects can be seen in the hands and upper extremities.
Researchers have linked smoking cigarettes and other devices with the following:
All of the issues above can affect the hands and upper extremity. For example, reduced blood flow (the narrowing of blood vessels) can affect the very small blood vessels at the fingertips and the blood vessels that go to bone, nerve, and other important tissues in the hand and upper extremity.
Nicotine can also make some hand conditions worse.
Smokers should stop smoking before surgery or when recovering from wounds from trauma, disease or recent emergency surgery. It is best to stop smoking as soon as possible to allow your body to recover.
In some instances, your surgeon may ask you to take a nicotine test to prove that you have stopped smoking. Speak to your physician about resources that can help you quit smoking.
© 2017 American Society for Surgery of the Hand
This content is written, edited and updated by hand surgeon members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.Find a hand surgeon near you.