To get set for surgery, it's important to look after your physical health

The information and advice here is aimed at helping you arrive for your appointment in the best possible physical health.

Maintaining and improving your overall wellbeing will also lead to a faster recovery if you require surgery.

Once you are referred by your GP, the waiting journey begins. Make the most of the time before you see your specialist.

In the time before your surgery, you can take simple steps to improve your physical health. This will reduce your risk of complications and improve your wellbeing, now and in your recovery.

There are a range of resources in this section of the website which can offer you support to tackle quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting fitter and drinking less alcohol.

Keep yourself healthy before your operation

Maintaining a healthy weight, getting active or quitting smoking.                                                    

Healthy changes start with little changes.                                                                                  

There are steps you can take now to help make your surgery or treatment a success.

The NHS Better Health website (opens in a new window) can help you to kickstart your health ahead of your operation and prepare you for a healthier, happier future.

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Maintaining a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of complications during surgery. If your operation is not urgent and you are overweight, taking time to lose weight before going ahead may be of great benefit to you.

Losing weight is not about getting it right – it’s about getting started. Making small, simple changes can really help you shed the pounds.

You can download a free NHS weight loss planning app (opens in a new window) to help you start healthier eating habits, be more active and start losing weight.

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Food and nutrition

Your body needs to repair itself – eating a healthy diet before and after your surgery can really help.

Here are some useful resources:

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Quit smoking

If you’re going into hospital for an operation, it’s strongly advised that you stop smoking as soon as possible.

Quitting smoking before an operation will reduce your chances of complications and speed up your recovery after surgery. It will also make your stay at hospital more comfortable as smoking is not permitted on hospital grounds.

Try to quit smoking as soon as you can as this will give your body as much time as possible to repair itself before surgery.

The best way to quit smoking is with a combination of personalised support and stop smoking aids, like nicotine replacement.

Get support:

Did you know that you are three times more likely to quit with support than on your own?  

There's a free local stop smoking service near you. It's much easier to stop smoking when you get the right support and with professional help, you're three times as likely to quit for good.

Find your local stop smoking service - Find Your Local Stop Smoking Service (LSSS) - Better Health - NHS (


Move more

There are many changes you can make to reduce the risks of surgery.

Your heart and lungs have to work harder after an operation to help the body to heal. While you are waiting for your operation, try and increase your activity levels. Activities that improve your strength and balance will also be useful for your recovery.

Always check with your healthcare professional first for what type of exercise is most appropriate for you.

No matter how much you do, physical activity is good for your body and mind. Adults should aim to be active every day. Some is good – more is better still. A daily brisk walk can boost your energy, lift your mood and make everyday activities easier.

Your GP surgery will be able to weigh you and signpost you to advice on healthy eating, any local weight loss schemes and exercise opportunities in your area.

You can also speak to your GP or local pharmacist for advice on how to live well, including for help to quit smoking or reduce your drinking.

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Alcohol can have many effects on the body, but importantly it can reduce the liver’s ability to produce the building blocks necessary for healing.

Make sure you are drinking within the recommended limits, or lower, to improve your body’s ability to heal after surgery.

Cutting back on alcohol can be a really effective way to improve your health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money. Any reduction in the amount you drink every week will be beneficial – and with the right support, it’s easier than you think.

Find tips on cutting down ( or download the free Drink Free Days app to get started.

Get medical advice before you stop drinking if you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day). It can be dangerous to stop drinking too quickly without proper help.

There’s lots of alcohol support available via the NHS website or you can find your local alcohol support service here.


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