Preparing for surgery and tips for recovery

Our surgery preparation and recovery tips

Surgery can be a life-changing moment, but the experience also requires some preparation. If you’re currently waiting to prepare for surgery, this is a great time to think about what you need to do to prepare for what’s about to happen. It’s also the ideal moment to plan your recovery to ensure it’s as swift and straightforward as possible.

How to prepare for surgery

  • Make sure you’re as physically healthy as possible – Surgery places stress on the body, so it’s important to ensure you’re as healthy as possible beforehand. Giving up smoking is a very powerful change you can make that will not only help you prepare for surgery but also improve your health over the long term. Ensuring that you are a healthy weight is important, as being overweight can create complications in surgery. If you’re drinking a lot of alcohol, this can impair your body’s ability to recover, and being unfit could impair the ability of your heart and lungs to cope during surgery. So, it makes sense to reduce drinking and increase your fitness (even just a little) before the time comes.
  • Focus on any long-term conditions you have – Whether it’s diabetes, lung conditions or a respiratory problem, it’s important that these are well under control in the run-up to surgery. If you’re on long-term medication, check with your doctor for advice on whether you may need to pause this to prepare for surgery.
  • Make practical arrangements – These could include arranging for someone to drop you off for the surgery and pick you up again afterwards, as well as taking time off work. If you have care responsibilities, you may need support with these, for example, walking a dog or looking after an elderly relative. Make sure your home is ready to support you post-surgery, from filling the fridge with nutritious food to making changes if you’ll be less mobile for a while.
  • It’s ok to feel anxious, everyone does – But it’s also a good idea to find ways to cope with any challenging thoughts before surgery, from trying mindfulness to talking to others about how you’re feeling.

Recovery after surgery

  • Know what to expect after surgery – There could be some discomfort or pain, surgical dressings that need changing, and the impact on your body overall, such as fatigue. You may also feel emotional and vulnerable post-surgery – this is an important time to be kind to yourself.
  • Eat healthily so that your body has the nutrients it needs to heal – it’s important to stay hydrated too.
  • Establish a new routine when you can – getting up, getting dressed and doing what you can help you ease back into normal life.
  • Accept help when offered – Many of us find it hard to accept help as adults, but this could shorten our recovery time.

You can see a previous blog with more information on recovering after surgery here.