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Preparing Physically For a Hospital Stay

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Physical Preparation For Surgery

It’s important that you prepare yourself physically before you go into hospital for surgery. You can do this in a number of ways - through proper diet, exercise, lifestyle adjustments and working in conjunction with your GP or surgeon to discuss any current medications you are on and any preliminary medical checks or tests you may need to undertake. Here is a list of things to be aware of.


If you’re not already doing so, you should begin eating a proper balanced and nutritious diet that is rich in foods containing Vitamin C as this can promote tissue healing. Your GP should be able to give you a diet sheet, which would be recommended prior to undergoing surgery.


Even if you wouldn’t usually exercise, if you’re having surgery it’s a good time to start. You don’t need to do anything too physically intensive but modest exercise can be beneficial in a number of ways. It will increase your energy levels and also help to relieve stress, both of which will have a bearing on your psychological well-being in the run up to surgery.

Furthermore, it will also increase your muscle flexibility and improve toning which will be extremely important if you are going to be confined to bed for a while after your operation.

Supplements & Prescription Drugs

If you’re eating a balanced diet that is rich in Vitamin C, you shouldn’t need to take additional supplements but if you do generally take them as a rule, you should check with your GP first as certain supplements can have negative side effects if you are facing surgery. A general multivitamin containing zinc should be fine but you need to be aware of certain vitamin and herbal supplements, which have been known to interfere with blood clotting. These include:

  • Excess Vitamin E
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Gingko
  • Garlic

Additionally, some herbal remedies can interfere with anaesthesia too. Therefore, you should either discuss this with your GP or, alternatively, stop taking these kinds of supplements two or three weeks before your surgery just to be on the safe side. It’s also important to stop taking aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications as these too can interfere with blood clotting.

As for any other prescription drugs you may be taking, you’ll need to give a list of all of those to your surgeon and they will be able to advise you on which ones are OK to take right up to the day of surgery. Also, if you’re a diabetic, you’ll need to discuss how you’re going to keep your insulin levels managed properly in the hours leading up to your surgery when you might not be permitted to eat.


If you’re a smoker, this is the perfect time to quit and you should also be careful about your alcohol intake in the couple of weeks leading up to your surgery and only drink alcohol in moderation. Better still, cut it out until after your operation.

Pre- Surgery Tests

Make sure you also check where and when any routine tests you may need to attend are going to be taking place. These might include blood and urine tests, an ECG or x-rays.

Once you have completed all of these checks, you will be as well prepared as you can be physically and alongside the mental preparation you’ll also need to undertake (which is contained in another article on this website), you’ll be ready for your upcoming surgery and can now start to plan for your recovery and rehabilitation afterwards which will help you to set goals once the operation is over.

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