Operate smartly to aid a speedy recovery

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Doc Spot with Dr Chris Marshall (GP at Salisbury House Surgery and chair of the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s Leighton Buzzard locality)...

I wish you all the best of health for the coming year. I hope you never need an operation and indeed do not need to see a medical professional throughout 2015.

However, should you need an operation, there is irrefutable evidence that the operation and most importantly, your recovery from it, will be better and quicker if you take on board two important measures – become a non-smoker for at least eight weeks before the operation and lose some weight.

Across Bedfordshire, GPs are being advised by our local clinical commissioning group that if a patient’s body mass index (BMI) is more than 35, we should encourage him or her to take part in a weight management programme before surgery.

Similarly, we are also signposting smokers to a recognised smoking cessation scheme.

A BMI of more than 35 is usually pretty heavy and the evidence that weight loss before surgery is of benefit is clear.

It is likely that getting weight down by even a few kilos from a BMI of over 30 will be helpful.

This is all very well for routine surgery, but some surgery is carried out as an emergency. The sensible option, therefore, is lose some weight and/or stop smoking before you or your doctor even contemplate surgery. It is your duty to yourself to “get fit for your operation” but it makes sense to get fit for whatever life throws at you.

I’ve had patients lose so much weight they no longer needed an operation – try googling 39 stone cyclist for inspiration. Some orthopaedic problems are weight dependent and, with recovery from knee replacements being so slow, an obese patient may be much better off losing weight while also receiving physiotherapy and some analgesia.

The above preparation for surgery is part of what I call “pre-habilitation”.So if an operation is a possible way forward to improve your health, then think ahead and talk to your doctor about what measures might make the operation go smoothly.