Lifestyle Choices Affecting Surgery Recovery

Regardless of your overall health, there are risks associated with any type of surgical treatment by a Los Angeles spine surgery expert. Certain lifestyle factors can also affect the outcome of surgical procedures and increase the risk of complications arising during surgery. Awareness of these factors in advance of your surgery can give you enough time to make some adjustments likely to increase the odds of experiencing successful surgery and recovery.


Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes may hinder bone regrowth following spine surgery and complicate recovery from fusion surgery. Smoking also increases inflammation that can result in post-operative complications. These risks can be significantly reduced by abstaining from smoking at least three weeks prior to surgery.


Alcohol is a muscle relaxant and depressant, which can make it difficult to accurately determine appropriate anesthesia levels during surgery. Chemicals within alcohol can also adversely interact with narcotic pain medications, decreasing the effectiveness (and increasing sedative effects) of such medications often prescribed to patients following surgery.


Patients with body fat ranging from 25 to 30 percent or greater have an increased risk of complications during and after surgery. For spine surgeries, excess weight places added pressure on the back and supporting joints and muscles that can further complicate surgical procedures. Losing approximately 15 percent of excess weight may help reduce weight-related risk factors.

Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins and supplements that people take as part of their daily routine may also interfere with some of the medications given to patients immediately following surgery, as well the anesthesia administered during surgery. Vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, ginger, and garlic supplements act as natural blood thinners and may increase bleeding during surgery. Some OTC drugs patients take for other reasons (aspirin therapy to reduce the risk of a heart attack, for instance) may also increase the risk of excessive bleeding during surgery.

Your board-certified spinal surgeon will likely inform you if you have any lifestyle factors that may complicate your surgery and recovery. Remedies can range from abstaining from smoking and drinking as far in advance of your scheduled procedure as possible to making an effort to lose weight prior to surgery. In some cases, weight loss may eliminate the need for some types of spine surgery all together.

To learn more about back or neck surgeries, including cervical artificial disc replacement and spinal fusion, call The Spine Institute and request an in-person consultation with Dr. Hyun Bae, the center’s medical director. Dr. Bae is a leader in spine surgery and can help determine the right course of action for your specific condition. Call (310) 828-7757 today.