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Anesthesia

Using the patch before surgery

02/19/2007

Question:

I`m really nervous about an upcoming tummy tuck that I`m having. I`m a recent smoker but have decided to quit and am now using the patch. Are the risks during surgery the same as if you were still smoking? Should I remove the patch before surgery? My surgery is in 3 day`s, I`ve only been wearing the patch for 2 day`s, is even stoping at this late of date going to help? Should I inform the the Anesthesiaologist of what I`m doing? Would it change the way they treat me?

Answer:

Withholding information from your anesthesiologist about medication you're taking is a very bad idea. I'm sure you don't need to be told why! The most benefit is if you stop smoking for 6 weeks or more but stopping smoking for only 5 days is still worth it. Some people who have recently stopped have a temporary increase in secretions, a potential drawback. But other effects are positive, including eliminating carbon monoxide, carried on the hemoglobin of smokers, from your blood. Not to mention the potential long term benefits of having quit - reduced heart and lung disease, cancer, etc.

I assume you mean the nicotine patch. Having the patch in place is not likely to change your anesthetic in any way. The patch provides a slow release of nicotine to combat withdrawal symptoms and the subsequent urge to smoke. There are no important interactions I know of between the nicotine patch and anesthetic medications.

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Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University