Preparing for your operation

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Preparing for your operation

Here are some things that you can do to help prepare yourself for your operation/procedure.

Getting yourself ready for your operation/procedure

You have been scheduled for an operation at the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust. But did you know that your actions between now and your procedure can have a direct impact on the success of your operation and the time it takes to recover?

There are many reasons why people may need a procedure and some operations place more of a strain on the body. However, the information below will be relevant for anyone undergoing a procedure. Please take the time to read through it and consider which lifestyle changes you could make to help with your operation/procedure and recovery after it.

Fitter Better Sooner - information and ideas about preparing for your operation/procedure

Why do I need to think about my health in the lead up to an operation?

An operation puts the body under stress for many different reasons. Some of these are in relation to having an anaesthetic and others to the procedure itself. In essence, your heart, lungs and other organs have to work harder than usual to keep your body in balance during your operation. We also have to consider the period of time after the operation. Operations leave you more vulnerable to complications such as infections, blood clots and heart attacks. One of the best ways to avoid these is to get up and about as soon as possible after an operation.

The following advice will help you to be in the best condition to get through your operation and then recover after it. It is important to take the time to read through this information. There are many ways you can improve your health leading up to an operation. Try to identify which of the below areas you think you can improve in the coming weeks. Even the smallest changes may have a big impact on the success of your operation and recovery after it.


Smoking: Why does it matter?

Smokers are more likely to have complications following their operation, including poor wound healing, chest infections and heart problems. Smokers are also 38% more likely to die following an operation compared to non-smokers. After the operation, smokers have a higher chance of needing to be admitted to the intensive care unit on a breathing machine. They also have a greater chance of being re-admitted to hospital after they have gone home.

Smoking: What can I do?

Stop smoking today! Even if you are reading this just two days before your surgery, stopping smoking can make a difference. The longer you stop for the greater the benefit, but every day counts. Visit the NHS Yorkshire Smokefree Service website for help and support with this. You can also call 01924 252174 to arrange an appointment with Yorkshire Smokefree at Pinderfields hospital.


Alcohol: Why does it matter?

People that drink 3-5 units of alcohol a day are 50% more likely to suffer a post-operative complication than non-drinkers. Those that drink over 5 units a day have over 300% more chance of suffering a complication.

Alcohol: What can I do?

Visit the NHS Better Health website for help calculating how much you drink and advice on how to cut back. You can call Alcohol Liaison Services at Pinderfields on 01924 541025. If you drink less than 5 units a day, then abstain from alcohol in the lead up to your operation, as this will give your liver time to recover. If you drink more than 5 units a day then do not stop drinking suddenly. Consult your GP or Alcohol Liaison Services for advice on how to gradually cut back your alcohol intake.

Physical activity

Physical activity: Why does it matter?

During and after an operation, your heart and lungs need to work harder than usual – much like when you exercise. Being in good physical condition will not only help with getting through the operation, but also with recovery. Getting up and about earlier after an operation helps to reduce the chance of many complications, such as blood clots and chest infections. By increasing activity in the build up to an operation, you are training your body for these extra demands.

Physical activity: What can I do?

Aim for 30 minutes of a moderate intensity exercise (brisk walking, swimming, cycling) 5 days a week, as well as some strengthening exercises 2-3 times a week. With moderate exercise, aim to raise your heartrate and feel out of breath – but still able to talk. Visit the NHS Live Well website for advice on different exercises, as well as a programme on how to build up strength.

Remember: if you have pre-existing health conditions that limit your physical activity, speak to a doctor before starting an exercise programme. Start slow and gradually build up what you can do.

Wakefield:  In the Wakefield area there are free services available to help you improve your health and wellbeing. You may benefit from an Aspire Health Referral to access specialist teams who will provide expert advice tailored to your needs. This could include a 12-week fitness programme with access to a local gym if you are prepared to commit to the programme. To find out more, including how to ask any health professional to refer you onwards, visit the Aspire Health Referral website or call 01924 307811.

Kirklees: In the Kirklees area there are free services available to help you improve your health and wellbeing. You may benefit from KAL Wellbeing - Fitness for Health & Live Well Programmes to access specialist teams who will provide expert advice tailored to your needs. This could include a 12-week fitness programme with if you are prepared to commit to the programme. To find out more, including how to seek a health professional to refer you onwards, visit the KAL Wellbeing - Fitness for Health & Live Well Programmes website.


Diet: Why does it matter?

As previously mentioned, an operation is similar to making the body exercise. As such, the body needs an appropriate energy supply for the operation and recovery from it. Failing this, there can be increased muscle breakdown as the body switches to using muscle supply for its energy source. In doing this, you may become weak and leave yourself vulnerable to infections and other complications. 

Diet: What can I do?

Ensure you eat a healthy, balanced diet in the lead up to your operation. Visit the NHS Live Well website for help and advice with this. You should aim to eat 2-3 servings of protein a day to help build your muscle strength. Try to get your ‘5 a day’ fruit and veg. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, but avoid fizzy drinks and juices which may have high sugar contents. 

Painkillers, dental care and pregnancy


If you are able to take it, have a paracetamol and ibuprofen supply at home for post-operative pain relief on your discharge from hospital.

Dental care

Speak to your dentist if you have any loose teeth or crowns. Treatment from your dentist may reduce the risks of damage to your teeth from equipment used during anaesthesia to support your breathing.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Speak to us if you are pregnant or breastfeeding so that we can make an appropriate plan for your operation.

What to bring with you

  • A warm dressing gown and slippers with a non-slip sole.
  • Day clothes and underwear.
  • A list of any medications you are currently taking.
  • Please bring all your belongings in a bag which will be stored whilst you are having your operation.


You are strongly advised not to bring valuables or items of high sentimental value into the hospital.

If this is unavoidable, please ask a relative to take them home for you. If this is not possible, hand in any valuables to the nurse in charge of your ward on arrival for the safe keeping of such items. The ward staff will take reasonable steps to ensure safe keeping of your valuables, such as glasses, dentures, hearing aids, etc.

However, the Trust cannot accept responsibility of patient property unless it is handed over for safe keeping.