Your health

Leading up to an operation, it is important to think about whether there is anything you can do to improve your overall health.


Being overweight or underweight can both cause problems in the perioperative period. We therefore assess your weight using the body mass index (BMI) when you come to your preassessment clinic appointment. An ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9kg/m2.

You can also calculate your BMI using the NHS calculator.

If your BMI falls above the normal range, they are a number of things you can do to help reduce the risks for surgery including:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercise (including walking and using the stairs instead of lifts)
  • Stopping smoking
  • Controlling your sugars if you are diabetic

If your BMI falls below the normal range there are a number of things you can do to help including:

  • Nourishing drinks and foods to boost your nutrient stores.
  • Regular meal times: 3 meals and 3 snacks per day.

You could be referred to a dietician who may supply you with a nutritional supplements or a special dietary plan.
If you need more information please contact the Nutrition and Dietetics Department: Torbay Hospital: 01803 654380.

Exercise and keeping active

Increasing your activity levels to improve your level of fitness leading up to your operation could have positive long-term effects including a more rapid recovery and improved survival after the operation. The current World Health Organisation recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week for adults although any increase in your activity levels prior to surgery would be beneficial. The goal is to try and double your normal activity level in the weeks preceding your surgery. This could include walking, climbing stairs, running, gardening, swimming and cycling amongst others.

You will be specifically told by your perioperative medical team if there is any reason why you shouldn’t exercise prior to your surgery although this is rare.


Smoking has many negative effects on the body and can cause complications after surgery. You are more likely to have a straightforward recovery from surgery if you stop smoking beforehand. This is because smoking reduces the amount of oxygen being delivered to the tissues. Oxygen is vital for the healing process. You are also less likely to develop chest and circulatory problems post operatively. Your body will feel the benefits 24 hours after stopping smoking. However the earlier you stop the more your body will have recovered from the effects of smoking at the time of surgery.


Reducing your alcohol intake prior to surgery is advised.
The current NHS recommendations are that men and women should not drink more than 14 units per week.

If you drink excessively it is important to tell one of the members of the health care professional team so that we can help keep you safe during your stay.

If you require further information or help please contact: Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust Drug and Alcohol Services on: 01803 604330.


Poorly controlled Diabetes can affect your surgical recovery due to complications and delayed wound healing in particular. If your blood sugar and or longer-term marker of diabetic control (HBA1C) is very elevated your surgery date may be delayed. It is therefore exceptionally important to control your blood sugar levels as early as possible leading up to your operation.