Background: Preoperative smoking cessation has been suggested to be effective in reducing various postoperative complications. However, the optimal duration of preoperative smoking cessation for reducing wound complications is unclear.
Methods: One hundred eighty-eight consecutive patients who underwent reconstructive head and neck surgery at the authors' institution were included in this retrospective study. Information on preoperative smoking habits was obtained from the patients' medical records. Smokers were defined as having smoked within 7 days before surgery. Late, intermediate, and early quitters were defined as patients whose duration of abstinence from smoking was 8-21, 22-42, and 43 days or longer before the operation, respectively. Patients who required postoperative debridement, resuture, or reconstruction of their flap before hospital discharge were defined as having had impaired wound healing.
Results: The incidences (95% confidence intervals) of impaired wound healing among the late, intermediate, and early quitters and nonsmokers were 67.6% (52-83%), 55.0% (33-77%), 59.1% (47-71%), and 47.5% (32-63%), respectively, and the incidence of impaired wound healing was significantly lower among the intermediate quitters, early quitters, and nonsmokers than among the smokers (85.7% [73-97%]). After controlling for sex, age, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status, operation time, history of diabetes mellitus, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and the type of flap, the odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for development of impaired wound healing in the late, intermediate, early quitters, and nonsmokers were 0.31 (0.08-1.24), 0.17 (0.04-0.75), 0.17 (0.05-0.60), and 0.11 (0.03-0.51), respectively, compared with the smokers.
Conclusions: Preoperative smoking abstinence of longer than 3 weeks reduces the incidence of impaired wound healing among patients who have undergone reconstructive head and neck surgery.