Researchers suggest that nicotine replacement therapy at least four weeks before surgery can almost halve the risk of poor wound healing in smokers.
"It is not easy to quit smoking just before an operation," said Professor Peter Sawicki, the Institute's Director.
"But people who smoke are more likely to have complications after surgery than people who do not smoke," he added.
It helps reduce withdrawal symptoms when people stop smoking by giving them nicotine through a patch or chewing gum.
The study has shown that only 14 percent of the patients who smoked had problems with wound healing if they had nicotine replacement therapy at least four weeks before surgery, compared to 28 percent of the patients who did not have nicotine replacement therapy.
"Anaesthetics and surgery put a strain on the body's oxygen supply as it is," said Professor Sawicki.
"Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that is available in the blood even more, making it more difficult for wounds to heal - a process which requires oxygen," he added.
The study appears on informedhealthonline.org.