Are Smokers More Prone to Inguinal Hernias?

Smokers, listen up. There are numerous reasons why you should quit smoking. You’re aware, so we won’t bother you with the benefits to a healthy heart and lungs. We’ll stick to how smoking affects inguinal hernias – your odds of getting one and your recovery from one. 

Men, not only are you eight times more likely than women to have an inguinal hernia, but if you’re a smoker, your odds increase even more. Nicotine and other toxins found in cigarettes, chewless tobacco and e-cigarettes degrades collagen.  Collagen provides the strength of the abdominal wall.  Thus smokers with their damaged collagen have a much weaker abdominal wall.  Collagen is also a major component of the healing tissue after surgery.  So not only smokers more likely to have a hernia, but are more likely to have the surgery to repair the hernia fail. 

Smokers also cough more than nonsmokers because smoke irritates and damages your lungs.  Every time you cough you put a strain on the abdominal wall.   That repeated strain causes the abdominal muscles to weaken and eventually to tear resulting in a hernia.

You Smoke. You Have an Inguinal Hernia. Now What?

Dr. William Brown recommends you stop smoking three months prior to undergoing hernia surgery. Collagen is necessary in the healing process, so smokers’ inguinal hernia repairs aren’t as strong as non-smokers and the recovery time takes longer. Since the repair isn’t as strong, smokers are at a higher risk of re-injury. At the very least, continuing to smoke after surgery will cause coughing that will be very painful during the recovery process. If you need help or support to quit smoking, there are a lot of great resources on the internet, like WebMD and the American Lung Association.