Getting Ready for Surgery

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You will have better outcomes from your surgery and an easier recovery if you are as healthy as possible. Some health conditions can also mean that your surgery is delayed or cancelled.

There are lots of things you can do to improve your health while you wait for your surgery.

See your GP

Your GP can help you get fit for surgery.

Its a good idea to book an appointment with them as soon as possible if you know you will be having surgery.



If you are overweight you are at higher risk of problems during surgery like infection, difficulty breathing, and blood clots in your legs and lungs.

A person who is overweight has up to 21 times the risk of infection than a person of healthy weight.  It also makes the operation more difficult and you are more likely to need a blood transfusion.

There are some things you can do at home:

  • Reduce your fat and calorie intake. Try to eat meals that are full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Drink plenty of water and avoid soft drinks that are full of sugar.
  • Get more physical activity and exercise. If you have constant hip or knee pain, you may not be as active as you were before. Low-impact activities like swimming, biking, or using an elliptical machine will put less strain on your joints. They will still be effective in helping you lose weight.
helping you to quitGet Healthy is a free confidential telephone service that can help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Phone 1300 806 258


helping you to quitCHEGS is a Northern Rivers not-for-profit organisation that offers low cost exercise, Tai Chi/Qigong and Falls Prevention classes.

helping you to quit


Smoking puts strain on your heart and increases your chance of blood clots. It also makes it harder for you to breathe and increases your risk of infection. If you stop smoking you will recover faster from your surgery.

Doctors recommend that you stop smoking at least 8 weeks before your surgery.
helping you to quitHelping U 2 Quit is a free program for people who are thinking about quitting smoking. They run clinics and group sessions.

To make an appointment call (02) 6674 9500

quit for new lifeQuit for New Life supports Aboriginal women and women who identify as having an Aboriginal baby and household members to go smoke free for baby. Call:

Tweed: 0417 474 417
Lismore: 0477 368 183

quitlineQuitline can help you stop smoking. Call 13 78 48 or go to


Do not drink alcohol for at least 24 hours before your anaesthetic.
  • Alcohol stops your body healing well and can increase your resistance to anaesthetic. Having more than 2 drinks a day, or more than 4 at one time can put you at risk.
  • Speak to your GP for ideas to help reduce your alcohol intake.
drinkcheckGet Healthy is a free confidential telephone service that can help you to reduce your intake of alcohol.

Phone 1300 806 258

red blood cells

Check Your Iron Levels

  • Your GP can order an iron test for you. Having enough iron in your blood, can reduce your risk of needing a blood transfusion and your risk of infection. If your iron is low, your GP can prescribe iron tablets.
  • Ask your GP to do a blood test to check your blood count and iron levels.

Do you have diabetes?

  • Ask your GP to check your Hba1c. This is a measure of the amount of sugar in your blood over the past three months. It tells us if your body is processing sugar as it should be.
  • Your Hba1c should be less than 8 before your surgery.
  • If your Hba1c is more than 8, it increases the risk of problems such as infection and death after surgery.
  • Your doctor can give you ways to reduce your Hba1c if necessary.

Get Healthy is a free confidential telephone service that can help you to manage your type 2 diabetes.

Phone 1300 806 258


Heart Health

  • If you have had a heart condition you need to have seen your heart specialist in the 12 months before your surgery.
  • If you have a pacemaker or defibrillator you need to have had this checked in the 12 months before your surgery.
Please bring this information with you to the pre-operative clinic.


General anaesthetic or sedation is a risk for people with untreated sleep apnoea. They can stop breathing or not breathe properly after surgery. This can be made worse by the strong painkillers which may be used around the time of your surgery.

If you snore, is it possible you have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea? Talk to your GP if you tick three or more of the following:

  • I snore loudly enough to be heard through closed doors
  • I often feel tired or sleepy during the daytime, such as falling asleep during driving or talking to someone?
  • I have stopped breathing or choke or gasp during my sleep
  • I am being treated for high blood pressure
  • I am overweight
  • I am more than 50 years old
  • My shirt collar is larger than 43cm (men) and 41cm (women)
  • I am male


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