It is well-known that smoking is one of the main causes of health risks in cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. As people are more aware, the decline of smoking cigarette has incased. However, millions of Americans are still insisting on smoking regardless of the health consequences.
An interesting fact that people are not aware of that is the result from smoking, is that smoking one cigarette can cause vasoconstriction cutaneous up to 90 minutes. Smoking raises the heart rate, arterial blood pressure and in the end, increases the cardiac output. As the blood vessels are being vasoconstricted by nicotine from smoking, your subcutaneous (underlying skin layer) becomes atrophied (thinner). Therefore, as you start to begin weight bearing, you start losing your fat pad and the foot bones become more directly in contact with the ground forces. Over time, the pressure between bone and skin develops callus formation. Callus formation is the body’s mechanism to protect the bones from being damaged by the ground reactive forces.
If the above interesting fact is not enough to “wow” you, here is another fact about smoking. It takes a minimum of twelve hours in order to clear the carbon monoxide from the blood and return the carboxyhemoglobin level to normal after one cigarette smoking. Why is this important to know? Carbon monoxide hemoglobin binding is 200 times that of oxygen and therefore causes the decrease in binding of hemoglobin to oxygen. The body will not have enough fresh oxygen brought by blood (hemoglobin) and causes the cells in your body even more lack of oxygen (hypoxia). Smoking a cigarette for ten minutes decreases the tissue oxygen tension for almost an hour.
If a patient is to undergo an elective foot surgery, the patient will be advised to quit or at least cease smoking for 3 months prior to the surgical procedure due to the poor blood supply and perfusion to the tissues. The risks of slow wound healing and infection is greater in those who smoke daily prior to and after the surgery. Therefore, a thorough smoking education on wound healing is required to discuss with patients before any elective surgeries. If you would like to learn more on this topic, then make an appointment with one of our podiatrists at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center located in Howell NJ.