As soon as you know that you may be having an operation, it is helpful to think about how you can be as healthy and fit as possible.
The time that you have to prepare will vary depending on the reason for the operation. If your operation is not too urgent, you can ask for extra time to get fit, if you want to. If your operation is an emergency, your doctors and nurses will give you good care in the condition you are in.
If you have a long-term condition, such as diabetes, asthma or bronchitis, heart problems or high blood pressure, you should make sure you are as well as possible before your operation. If you think you could make some improvement, you can ask your GP for an extra check-up. You should do this as soon as you know that you are having an operation.
If you smoke, you should consider giving up before your operation. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and increases the risk of breathing and heart problems during and after the operation. Your surgical wound will heal more slowly and be more likely to get infected if you smoke. On average, smokers stay in hospital longer than non-smokers.
If you plan to quit smoking, it is a good idea to get help from a counsellor or support service. Your GP will be able to give you contact details for services in your area. You are four times more likely to give up successfully if you have this kind of help. For more information please go to: http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree
Many of the risks of having an operation are increased if you are very overweight. Your GP can give you advice about weight loss and put you in touch with an organisation that can help. Slow, supervised weight loss is likely to be most successful.
If you drink more than the recommended amount, you should cut down before an operation. Go to: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/alcohol/pages/alcohol-units.aspx for more advice.
Ideally, loose teeth should be secured before an anaesthetic. This reduces as far as possible the chance of any damage to your teeth (see page 42). On the day of your operation, your anaesthetist will want to know which teeth are loose, or have crowns or a bridge.