Smoking and failed back surgery syndrome

Among the many health risks associated with smoking cigarettes is an increased risk for the development of complications associated with spine surgery, which is also known as failed back surgery syndrome. Research shows that smokers are more likely to have complications related to spine surgery. This is because the chemicals in smoking and nicotine products have negative effects on bone growth, circulation and tissue regeneration, all of which are key components to spine recovery.

If you are considering any type of spine procedure, whether it’s a traditional open spine surgery or a minimally invasive spine surgery, it is highly recommended that you stop smoking before the procedure and refrain from smoking throughout the recovery process.

How smoking and other risk factors can contribute to back surgery complications

A common type of spine surgery is a spinal fusion. This procedure requires a bone graft to be implanted between two vertebrae in order to facilitate new bone growth to stabilize the spine. In order to successfully grow new bone, the graft must get oxygen and nutrients from the blood. Smoking reduces circulation, therefore limiting the bone graft’s ability to produce new bone and form a successful fusion.

In addition to smoking, other contributors to failed back surgery syndrome include:

  • Unhealthy body weight. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience failed fusions due to the pressure on the spine.
  • Bone disorders. Conditions like osteoporosis or osteopenia may prevent vertebrae from fully fusing.
  • Past surgeries. Patients who have undergone past spine surgeries or have multilevel fusions may have a higher risk of failed back surgery than first-time surgical patients.

The benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery

For patients who are being recommended for spine surgery but have concerns about the risks and difficulties involved, Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive spine surgery. Our surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a small incision and an outpatient procedure, offering patients a reduced risk of complications like failed back surgery syndrome.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. We can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.