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Postoperative Problems - Prevention

You may be able to prevent problems after surgery by taking steps beforehand to improve your health.

  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Complications involving the lungs are more likely to occur in people who smoke. Infections are more common in people who use tobacco products, because of reduced blood flow and from having more mucus stuck in the airways. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Problems with increased abdominal pressure, complications involving the lungs, and infection occur more often in people who are overweight. For more information, see the topic Weight Management.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises before surgery.
  • If possible, be active before your surgery to increase your fitness level. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Make an appointment with a dietitian if you need help with menu planning. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.

Be sure to follow all of your surgeon's instructions after surgery to prevent problems. You may be instructed to:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. This can help prevent problems such as dehydration and constipation.
  • Sit up, cough, and breathe deeply to expand your lungs and help prevent breathing problems, such as pneumonia.
  • Walk as soon and as often as your surgeon recommends. Early activity helps prevent complications. Ask your surgeon how soon you can expect to get out of bed, sit in a chair, and walk. Walking increases circulation to your legs and helps prevent problems, such as blood clots. Walking also helps prevent constipation.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 13, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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