Smoking can weaken the immune system, reduce oxygen levels and slow the wound healing process.

The status of your health plays a large role in the wound healing process, and your habits can also affect the body’s ability to recover. Unfortunately, smoking is often more than just a bad habit, but rather an addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 42 million, or 18.1 percent, of all Americans smoke cigarettes. If you’re one of these people, take some time to consider the major ways smoking affects wound healing:

Deprives the body of oxygen

The body’s ability to recover from a wound relies on oxygen, which allows for the repair and rebuilding of cells. In essence, it is the foundation for the redevelopment of skin tissue. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen to the affected area – it narrows the blood vessels responsible for carrying blood and oxygen to various parts of the body.

Weakens the immune system

Immune function is essential for recovery as it can help stave off wound infection. When this function is weakened, the body can experience delayed healing, and smoking is extremely effective at weakening the immune system. It depresses the antibodies and cells that protect your body against outside bacteria that have the potential to do harm.

While smoking is detrimental to wound healing and your general health, it’s not too late to reverse some of the effects. Quitting smoking now may improve the body’s ability to stave off infection and recover with minimal scarring, and it can also reduce your risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease and other life-threatening conditions. If you’re having trouble quitting, see a clinician to discuss smoking cessation aids.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.