Nutrition, medications and smoking

Immunonutrition

Most surgeons now recognise that good attention to nutrition, including its effects on antioxidant and inflammatory status, can have a major positive impact on the outcome of any major surgical procedure.

Patients having major surgery given enteral (orally administered) supplements have improved wound healing compared with patients receiving standard nutrition.

Immunonutrition aims to provide the proper mix of nutrients to boost healthy immune function while suppressing the exaggerated inflammatory response seen after surgery.

Starting immunonutrition supplements five to seven days before surgery may provide great benefits, including beneficial immune system effects and fewer postoperative infections. These can be continued in the early postoperative period. This specific product is called “Impact” and will be prescribed for you by your doctor if he feels you will benefit from it.

Medication Guidelines

Depending on the type of surgery scheduled, certain medications may be prescribed or restricted before the surgery. The health care team will provide specific instructions. If certain medications need to be restricted before surgery, you will receive a complete list of the medications to avoid taking before the scheduled surgery.

This particularly applies to anticoagulants such as Warfarin and Plavix (Clopidogrel).

Low dose Aspirin is rarely ceased before surgery.

You should bring all your medications with you to the hospital.

Smoking cessation

Patients who will undergo any surgical procedure are encouraged to quit smoking and stop using tobacco products at least two weeks before the procedure, and to make a commitment to be a non-smoker after the procedure. Ideally, the patient should quit smoking at least eight weeks prior to surgery. Quitting smoking before surgery helps the patient recover more quickly from surgery. There are several smoking cessation programs available in the community. The patient should ask their GP for more information and help if he or she needs help quitting smoking before surgery.

Activity before surgery

The patient should eat right, rest, and exercise as normal before surgery, unless given other instructions. The patient should try to get enough sleep to build up energy for the surgery.

Wound infection minimisation

The health care team may advise the patient to shower with a special disinfecting soap the evening before the surgery. Some patients who are at high risk of wound infection and who are having elective surgery, may require topical nasal antibiotics to clear any bacteria they may be carrying in their nose.