Why does surgery affect the lungs?

Having surgery is a big deal. The anaesthetic, long period of bed rest, surgical wounds and not to mention the illness that caused the surgery itself, all leave you vulnerable and prone to a number of secondary illnesses that you can pick up in hospital after your surgery.

One of the most common post-surgical illnesses is known as a 'post-operative pulmonary complication'. This is an overarching name for people who develop a problem within the lungs after surgery. This can be either a lung infection (pneumonia) or a partial lung collapse (atelectasis) which both increase your chance of admission to intensive care, lengthy hospital stays and further medical treatments. Fortunately, we can help!


Why perform breathing training before surgery?

By strengthening your breathing before surgery you can HALF your chance of pneumonia and lung collapse after surgery. Yes HALF! This is because stronger lungs are more resilient to the effects of surgery, allowing you to keep them open and functioning fully in the troublesome post-operative period. 

(Note - These results are from people undergoing either abdominal or heart surgery)

What does breathing training involve?

Our pre-operative breathing training program involves 3 main steps 

1. Prepare

Our team of breathing experts will ensure your body is ready for optimal breathing. This will involve a thorough assessment of your breathing muscles and the surrounding structures to ensure any musculoskeletal stiffness or limitations are released to allow your breathing muscles to be in the best position for optimal respiration. 

2. Optimise

Once your breathing muscles are ready to go, our team will guide you on the optimal breathing patterns required for you to get air deep into your lungs in the post-surgical period. This will involve implementation of a number of specialist techniques involving proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation of your diaphragm to help optimise your breathing motor control.  

3. Strengthen

Once optimal motor control is achieved it is time to strengthen! At this point in time we will set you up one of our respiratory muscle strength trainers and provide you with an individualised home training program in which you can continue to progress your lung strength from the comfort of your own home. 

My surgery is soon - how long does breathing training take?

As little as one session of pre-operative breathing physiotherapy 1-2 weeks before surgery has been shown to be effective at reducing the chance of post pulmonary complications!
However to achieve significant measurable improvements in your your lung strength we recommend performing lung strengthening exercises for at least 4-6 weeks before your surgery.