shape up for surgery

We know you will have heard about how smoking and drinking alcohol negatively affects your health and wellbeing, but now you’re preparing for surgery it’s important to make a change.

If you’ve had these habits for a long time it might seem impossible, but the resources and guidance on these pages are designed to support you to make the first steps. 

Quit smoking

Smoking can have serious consequences for patients who are having surgery. Smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco before having surgery will mean that you will have a longer stay in hospital after your operation. If you stop, you will be able to go home sooner.

At Bradford Teaching Hospitals we know that our patients who smoke need to stay overnight in hospital at least 1 day longer compared to ex-smokers.

You should aim to stop smoking as soon as you can before your operation. This will help to prevent delayed wound healing, wound infection and chest infections (pneumonia). If you need help to stop smoking, please speak to your GP or use the links on this page to find local support services.

If you are having surgery that includes adding metal into your body, smoking increases the risk of this not working, and you may need another operation to fix this. Smoking also increases your chance of having a chest infection after your operation by 50%, so it’s really important to try and stop to help recovery more quickly.

We’ve mentioned the breathing exercises you can do to prepare your lungs for general anaesthetic but if you smoke you’ll find these much harder to do. Stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health, including if you already have a smoking-related disease.

Living Well Stop Smoking Support
For advice and support to help people stop smoking call 01274 437700 or visit: https://mylivingwell.co.uk/smoking/support-to-quit


  • Support to quit – a list of all the places across the Bradford district where you can find personal support to quit smoking.
  • Quit Smoking (NHS) – information from the NHS to help you quit smoking for better health
  • NHS Smokefree app – this free app allows you to track your progress, see how much you’re saving and get daily support


It is very important to safely reduce the amount of alcohol you drink before your operation. Alcohol can weaken your immune system, putting you at risk of developing complications and prolonging your recovery. You should aim to be alcohol free for at least 24 hours before your operation.

Our anaesthetists use a number of medicines to help you sleep during your operation. These drugs also affect your heart rate and breathing and alcohol affects these too. This means it is important that you do not drink alcohol in the weeks leading up to your surgery so that your heart and lungs are working well.

If you drink regularly, now is a good time to gradually reduce your intake. You can start small, reducing your daily drink to a few times a week and then moving to once a week.

If you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful. You should get advice about this from your GP and ask about any medicine you may need to do this safely.


  • Alcohol Change UK unit calculator – find out how many units are in a drink so you can choose a lower unit alternative
  • Try Dry app – download the app to track your drinking and set personalised goals for cutting down
  • Get alcohol support – find local support if you don’t think you can reduce your drinking before your operation