Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Preparing for Surgery

This information is designed to help you prepare for surgery, and can be used alongside other information given to you by the teams involved in your care.  

You may be at the early stage of thinking about having an operation, or you may have been waiting a long time to undergo surgery.  Whatever stage you are at, there are lots of things you can do to get ready, be prepared, and have a more successful outcome and better recovery.

If you are awaiting a knee or hip replacement, or surgery relating to cancer treatment click on the links below for more specialised information, otherwise read on. 

The benefits of being well prepared for surgery include:

  • reduced complications and side effects from surgery
  • reduced time spent in hospital and a quicker return to home
  • less time needed to recover to your former level of health and lifestyle
  • better energy levels, less tired, and better mental health
  • more involved in your care, and decisions around this.

The main aspects of preparing well for surgery are:

  1. Physical activity and fitness
  2. Diet and nutrition
  3. Wellbeing and emotional support
  4. Healthy lifestyle choices around smoking and alcohol
Early on in your journey towards surgery, you will have an appointment with the Pre-Operative Assessment Clinic who will assess your fitness for an operation or anaesthetic. This will be an opportunity to discuss how to prepare well for surgery. 

Patients who are fit recover from surgery quicker and with fewer complications. What you do in the time leading up to surgery can have a big impact on your recovery and long-term health.

Other useful resources: 

There is lots of research to show how using your time before surgery to get physically fitter can benefit you. You can find out more about it here:

Diet and nutrition

Having a healthy and nutritious diet is important at all times but even more so when getting ready for surgery. Having an operation and recovering uses a lot of energy over a long period of time and having good energy reserves will help you recover.

What dietary advice should I follow? 

If you know your alcohol intake is higher than is healthy for you, or if you are a smoker, preparing for surgery can be a good time to work towards cutting down and stopping. This will help your chances of avoiding complications and having to stay in hospital longer, and returning to full health after the operation.

The teams looking after you will discuss this with you, and more information can be found here:

Stop before your Op

If you are due to have surgery, the sooner you stop smoking before your operation the better.  We know how hard it can be to give up smoking, but when you’re ready to stop you don’t have to go it alone. There is lots of free support available if you would like to stop smoking for your operation as a short term goal, or if you are thinking of stopping smoking for good

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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