As part of the Enhanced Recovery Pathway, it is important that you play an active role in your own care – before and after surgery – and include your family/carers and friends in this process. The more you put into your prehabilitation and recovery, the better your results are likely to be. There are a number of things that you can do to prepare for your surgery, accelerate your recovery and ensure the best outcome.
Your general health
Making sure your general health is as good as possible before your surgery can reduce the risks as well as help with your recovery.
Helping you to stay healthy
A healthy diet
Having a balanced diet will ensure your body has the right balance of nutrients for recovery.
If you’re overweight or obese, it can help to reduce your risks of surgery if you lose some weight before surgery.
Do you smoke?
If you smoke, try to stop at least eight weeks before your surgery if possible. Not only is smoking linked to heart and respiratory diseases, it can also increase the risks of anaesthesia.10
If you can quit smoking 24 hours before surgery, or even cut down, you can help improve the outcome of your surgery/reduce the risk of respiratory problems during anaesthesia.
You can find help here.[ Link to www.nhs.uk/smokefree]
If you drink heavily, then it’s important that you reduce your alcohol intake or stop altogether 3-8 weeks before your surgery – this will significantly reduce the risks of serious post-operative complications. Heavy drinking affects your immune system and means you’re more likely to have complications after surgery, including infection and slow healing.
More advice about cutting down or quitting is available here. [Link to www.drinkaware.co.uk/advice/how-to-reduce-your-drinking/]
Research has shown that patients who engage more with improving their own health and are well informed – have better outcomes. If you take an active interest in your surgery and treatment, it means you’re more likely to feel positive about working with your healthcare team to prepare for your surgery, including carrying out your strengthening exercises and asking questions so that you’re well informed and feel in control of your health.
The healthcare team supporting your Consultant includes the following professionals:
Having good upper body strength and losing weight if you need to can make it easier to get around after your surgery. Following the programme of strengthening exercises advised by your physiotherapist can also help to speed up your recovery.
Before your surgery, prehabilitation exercises [link] will increase your flexibility and strengthen the muscles.. The more often you carry out these exercises, and the stronger these muscles are before surgery, the faster your recovery is likely to be.
You should start doing these exercises before your surgery to help improve the movement and strength in your muscles.
The physiotherapy team on the ward after your operation will monitor your exercise and for best results you should carry out the exercises given independently at least three times per day.
It’s also very important that you continue to do these exercises when you leave hospital in order to get the best outcome possible for you.
Carrying out your exercises.[link]
When you first return home after surgery, you won’t be as mobile as usual and this may restrict what you’re able to do. Try to work out a plan with friends and family who can help you or arrange for some additional help while you recover from surgery. Making some adaptations around your home before your operation can make life much easier later on. These might include:
The downloadable checklist below is designed to help you prepare for going to hospital and when you return home. You might like to talk it through with a friend, carer or relative to make sure you have practical support in place:
I know the date I am likely to return home have told people where I am going to be
I have packed a bag with everything I need (see hospital checklist )
I have a list of any questions I need to ask
I have arranged for transport to hospital and back home
I have arranged care for any relatives
I have arranged for someone to look after my pets
I have cancelled milk/papers as necessary
I have moved any loose rugs/furniture that might cause problems
I have made sure I can easily reach what I need
I have made any modifications to my home as advised by my healthcare team
There is additional milk/bread in the freezer
There are some ready-made meals in the freezer