Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Preparing for your operation

Te whakaritea tō pokanga

All surgery has risks, but you can do several things to lower your risk of complications and help yourself to recover well after your surgery.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, this is the perfect time to stop! By quitting, you'll reduce the risk of getting a chest infection and improve blood flow to any wounds. Good blood flow will reduce the chance of getting a wound infection and help the wound to heal.

As well, stopping smoking is good for your long-term health. You'll have less chance of having a heart attack or stroke and getting many types of cancer and you'll have more money to spend.

If you come for a pre-admission appointment at the hospital before your operation, you'll be offered nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum.

There are lots of resources to help you stop smoking on How to become smokefree. You can also see the Canterbury DHB's Stop For Your Op printable pamphlet for advice.

You can get free help to stop smoking – including nicotine replacement therapy – from your practice nurse or pharmacist. Or see your general practice team to talk about other options.

Keep physically active

Keep as physically active as you can. Try swimming or using an exercise bike if you have difficulty walking or running. The fitter you are the better your body will cope with the stress of having surgery.

Watch your weight and what you eat

Make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet. Being overweight or underweight increases your chances of having complications from the anaesthetic and from the surgery.

Control blood pressure and diabetes

If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure you have these under control. If they aren't well-controlled, your surgery may have to be delayed. Check with your general practice team or diabetes nurse.

Treat anaemia

If you have anaemia (also called a low blood count or low haemoglobin level), this may delay your surgery. Talk to your general practice team.

Control any other medical conditions

If you have any medical condition that is not well controlled, your surgery might be delayed. This especially applies to conditions that affect your heart or lungs. Talk to your general practice team about any condition you have.

Prepare for when you go home

Once you have a date for surgery, make sure you plan for when you get home again. Most patients only spend one to two nights in hospital after surgery so think about what support you might need from family and friends. For example, will you need to move a bed?

If there are any rugs you might trip on, remove them. Get some meals that you can just heat up and put them in the freezer or cupboards. Move anything you'll need to somewhere you'll be able to reach.

If you have any more questions about your surgery, talk to your general practice team or ask the nurse at your pre-surgery hospital appointment.

Written by Anaesthetics Department, Burwood Hospital. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2022.


See also:

Having an anaesthetic

General surgical risks

Preparing for your doctor's visit

Page reference: 96218

Review key: HIPYO-96218