How Smoking Impacts Wound Healing

Smoking has long been targeted as a risk factor for many diseases and seen as detrimental to our health.  Diseases aside, smoking has also been shown to have a big impact on how wounds heal.

In order for a wound to heal efficiently and effectively, it needs oxygen.  At the cellular level, oxygen is needed to repair and build cells.  It also helps prevent infections in open wounds.[1]

The problem with smoking is that it deprives the body of oxygen.  “Hemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen throughout the body, cannot carry as much oxygen as usual when it is exposed to cigarette smoke.”[2]  Smoking causes your blood vessels to narrow and makes your blood thicker, which then makes it harder for the hemoglobin and oxygen to get to the wound for repair.

“In addition, smoking has been shown to make it more difficult for your body to fight off an infection…Chemicals in cigarette smoke limit the activity of infection-fighting cells called neutrophils…Neutrophils restore a safe environment by getting rid of things, like bacteria.  Without normal neutrophils” an infection could occur, which could lead to the need of antibiotics or surgery.

If you are prone to wounds, have an existing wound, or plan to have surgery, talk to you doctor about your smoking.  The two of you can come up with a plan to stop smoking, which in turn, will allow for a successful healing experience.

If you have questions regarding wounds on your feet or ankles that are not healing, do not hesitate to contact our office today at          (707) 578-1222.


-Sarah Del Buono




[1] Smoking and Wound Healing. (2013, May 02). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from

[2] How Smoking Affects Healing. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from