It is a good idea to prepare your body and mind prior to any treatment

In the time before your treatment, you can take simple steps to help improve your physical and mental health. This can help to reduce your risk of complications from any surgery and improve your wellbeing now and during your recovery. Think of this as ‘Prehabilitation’.

Research shows that people who keep mentally or physically active feel happier and healthier. Maintaining and improve your overall wellbeing will lead to a faster recovery if you require surgery.

It is a good idea to make the most of the time before you see your specialist by stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting fitter and drinking less alcohol. Support is available to help you and can be found in the pages in this section.

Improving health and wellbeing

Smoking

Stopping smoking is hard, but the good news is that quitting or cutting down shortly before treatment can improve wound healing and lung function and reduce the length of any stay in hospital. Preparing for surgery offers a real opportunity to commit to stopping smoking.

Weight

If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce the stress on your heart and lungs. In addition it can help to:

  • lower your blood pressure
  • improve your blood sugar level
  • reduce pain in your joints
  • reduce your risk of blood clots after surgery
  • reduce your risk of wound infections after surgery
  • allow you to exercise more easily.

Exercise

Your heart and lungs have to work harder after an operation to help the body to heal. If you are already active, they will be used to this. While you are waiting for your operation, try and increase your activity levels.

Brisk walking, swimming, cycling, gardening or playing with your children are all helpful. Try to do any activity which makes you feel out of breath at least three times per week, but always check with your doctor first what type of exercise is most appropriate for you. Activities that improve your strength and balance will also be useful for your recovery.

Alcohol

Alcohol can have many effects on the body, but importantly it can reduce the liver’s ability to produce the building blocks necessary for healing. Make sure you are drinking within the recommended limits, or lower, to improve your body’s ability to heal.

Managing medical conditions

Many medical conditions can affect recovery from surgery. It is important to make sure any known conditions are controlled as well as possible ahead of your surgery.

You can also book in for a general health check at your GP surgery if you are between 40 and 74 years old.

Diabetes

Good control of your blood sugar is really important to reduce your risk of infections after surgery. Think about your diet and weight. Talk to your diabetes nurse or team early to see if they need to make any changes to your treatment.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure should be controlled to safe levels to reduce your risk of stroke. Sometimes operations may be delayed if it is too high.

Have your blood pressure checked at your surgery well ahead of your operation – some GP surgeries have automated machines so you can pop in any time. If it is high, your GP can check your medications and make any changes needed ahead of the operation.

Anaemia (low blood count)

If you have been bleeding or have a chronic medical condition, a blood test can check whether you are anaemic. If you are, you should talk to your GP about treatment to improve your blood count before surgery.

Treating your anaemia before surgery reduces the chance of you needing a blood transfusion. It will also help your recovery and make you feel less tired after your surgery.

Heart, lung and other medical problems

If you have any other long-term medical problems, consider asking your GP or nurse for a review of your medications, especially if you think your health is not as good as it could be.

Dental health

If you have loose teeth or crowns, a visit to the dentist may reduce the risk of damage to your teeth during an operation.

For more information and advice you can watch a helpful video from the Royal College of Anaesthetists – Preparing for surgery: Fitter Better Sooner.

COVID-19 vaccination

If you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, it is recommended that you have this prior to attending hospital appointments or surgery.

To find out if you are eligible, visit the NHS COVID-19 vaccination pages.

If you are eligible and would like to book your vaccination appointment, visit the national booking service.