Smoking, drinking means higher surgery risks, but health coaching before surgery could help

Nov. 14, 2022
Those who both smoke cigarettes and have multiple alcoholic drinks a day face worse surgical outcomes – but talking about risks before operations can reduce use.

Two habits are riskier than one when it comes to surgery-related problems, according to a study of 200,000 patients who smoked cigarettes, drank two or more alcoholic drinks a day, did both or did neither before they had an operation.

Being a smoker, or drinking multiple drinks a day, both were associated with higher rates of problems after surgery. But both smoking and drinking regularly carried even higher risks, the University of Michigan study finds.

If patients and surgical teams want to reduce those risks, they may want to pay attention to a second new study led by the same addiction psychologist who led the first, Anne Fernandez, Ph.D.

The second study shows that surgery candidates who talked with a health coach about drinking-related surgical risks in the weeks before their operation were able to cut their drinking in half on average. Many completely abstained from alcohol, making them better prepared for surgery and healthier overall.

U of M Health release