How to Prepare Mentally and Physically for Surgery

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The prevalence of surgical procedures in the UK corresponds broadly with that of the western world, with around one-in-10 Brits undergoing a surgical procedure every year.

While most of these will be minor or elective surgeries, some are highly intrusive and could have a detrimental impact on your long-term wellbeing.

Regardless, pretty much all surgeries require a period of rest and recovery, while also creating a degree of emotional stress. We explore these issues in this article, while discussing how you can prepare for the realities of surgery.

The Impact of Surgery Goes Beyond the Physical

Let’s start with the basics; while the impact of surgery is largely physical, going under the knife can also cause immense emotional stress and place a strain on your emotional wellbeing. People have been known to experience depression and anxiety after surgery, particularly if they’re suffering from the significant discomfort of ongoing health issues.

Similarly, you may find that you’re partially immobile after surgery or that your everyday routine is hugely disrupted, altering your outlook considerably and leaving you with a negative mindset.

This can be damaging, as research reveals that mental health issues such as depression can have a negative impact on physical recovery from surgery, while increasing the perception of postoperative pain and discomfort.

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Mental Preparation – What You Need to Know

From a mental perspective, it’s important to study and understand the surgery you’re planning to have, from its duration, physical impact and the projected recovery time. This ensures that you can prepare a list of questions prior to having a consultation appointment with a doctor or surgeon. At the same time, you can use your questions and concerns to search online for people’s first-hand experiences of the surgery in question, making it far easier to manage your expectations and mitigate future feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

You can also assuage any fear that you may have in the shorter-term, creating a scenario where it’s easier to think positively and prepare your friends and family in terms of the type of support you’re most likely to need.

We’d also recommend contacting specialists in the unlikely event that you’re subject to medical negligence during surgery, as this enables you to respond swiftly and effectively if you need to make a claim.

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What About Physical Preparation?

Not all types of surgery have been created equal, but nearly all will impose stipulations and requirements in terms of what you can eat or drink prior to your operation. In the case of stomach or gastric surgeries, there may also be restrictions on what you can consumer post operatively, so be sure to read and understand these well ahead of your scheduled operation.

As a general rule, it also makes sense to optimize your physical wellbeing and fitness before and after your surgery. Research has shown that there’s an inextricable link between physical and mental health, so attempting to get fitter (such as by eliminating alcohol from your diet and giving up smoking) can create a more positive outlook, facilitating your preparation for and recovery after an operation.

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