Doctors are refusing to operate on smokers. Here’s why the trend will grow

CHARLOTTE

An irate man contacted me recently to complain he’d been turned down for back surgery because he’s a smoker.

“It’s just not right,” said the Charlotte man, who suffers from chronic hip and leg pain. “I need this surgery. It’s to the point where I can’t walk around the block with my dogs.”

He acknowledged smoking is a “bad habit,” but after 35 years, he’s not sure he can quit. And he doesn’t think he should have to.

“It didn’t used to be this way,” he said. “Everybody’s got on their little righteous path.… My grandfathers on both sides smoked their entire lives. They didn’t die until one of them was 92, and one of them was 88.”

No doubt, genetics play a huge role in how healthy we are and how long we live. But personal behavior is also a big factor.

Most of us know that smoking is linked to heart disease and cancer. But in recent years, research has shown that smoking also inhibits wound healing because it decreases blood flow. As a result, smokers don’t do as well as non-smokers after having spinal fusion surgery and joint replacements.

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