What can I do to improve my recovery after a procedure?

Before a procedure

The Australian Society of Anaesthetists has information about preparing for your anaesthetic:
Preparing for your anaesthetic (ASA)

There are things you can do to reduce the chance of problems, particularly if you have some time before your procedure date. The medical literature refers to this process as Prehabilitation.

  • Quit smoking prior to your surgery. The longer the period of not smoking before surgery, the better it is for your health. Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of complications during and after surgery such as pneumonia, stroke, heart attack and surgical wound infection.
  • Reduce Alcohol intake
  • Weight optimisation if you are underweight or overweight.
  • See your GP to have your pre-existing medical problems evaluated and optimised. This could include treating anaemia, poor blood glucose control and any existing heart and lung disease. If you have a CPAP machine for sleep apnoea, using it for a couple of weeks prior to surgery will reduce your risk.
  • Physical exercise
  • Practise Deep Breathing Exercises
  • Good nutrition in the weeks before surgery, particularly if you are malnourished. However, you will need to strictly follow fasting guidelines prior to any anaesthesia.
  • Seek psychological support, if required, to help you achieve the above goals. Educate yourself on the procedure you are about to have and what the usual recovery is like. Ask your surgeon or anaesthetist if you have any questions.

Find out whether you need to cease any of your usual medications prior to your procedure. If you have been told to cease a medication, find out when your last dose is supposed to be. This is particularly important if you are taking any blood thinners, diabetic medications, or antihypertensives. Medication Guidelines. This advice will vary depending on your procedure and the exact type of medication you are taking. Please contact your surgeon or anaesthetist if you haven’t received advice.

The day of the procedure

Follow any fasting guidelines you have been given. If you have not been given any advice, please follow these guidelines.

Follow any guidelines you have been given about which of your usual medications you should take and which you should cease. If you have been given the go-ahead by your anaesthetist or surgeon to take a medication on the day of your procedure, it is okay to take it with a small sip of water.

After the procedure

There are things you can do to enhance your recovery, particularly if you have had a major procedure:

  • Deep Breathing Exercises have been shown to decrease the chance of getting chest infections. Take a deep breath in, hold it for 3-5 seconds, then slowly breathe out. Repeat this for FIVE breaths, then finish with a cough. Do this exercise once every waking hour. Holding a pillow on your abdomen may make this exercise easier.
  • Keep moving to prevent a blood clot. When you first get up after an anaesthetic you should do it slowly and have someone with you. Thereafter, you should avoid lying or sitting still for long periods as this promotes blood clots in the legs or lungs. How active you are needs to be a balance between preventing clots and allowing wounds to heal. Your surgeon and anaesthetist can give you specific advice about safe mobilising.

General anaesthesia and sedation may impair your motor skills and cognition. Even if you feel ‘normal’, to protect yourself and others, for 24 hours after your procedure:

  • DO NOT drive (you will not be covered by insurance if you have an accident)
  • DO NOT operate machinery (eg power tools, cooking)
  • DO NOT sign any legal documents or make important decisions
  • DO NOT drink alcohol or take any recreational drugs

If you have any questions about reducing your risk, please contact Narcosia Anaesthesia.