The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


It is very important to safely reduce the amount of alcohol you drink before your operation. Alcohol can weaken your immune system, putting you at risk of developing complications and prolonging your recovery. You should aim to be alcohol free for at least 24 hours before your operation.

Our anaesthetists use a number of medicines to help you sleep during your operation. These drugs also affect your heart rate and breathing and alcohol affects these too. This means it is important that you do not drink alcohol in the weeks leading up to your surgery so that your heart and lungs are working well.

If you drink regularly, now is a good time to gradually reduce your intake. You can start small, reducing your daily drink to a few times a week and then moving to once a week. 

If you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful. You should get advice about this from your GP and ask about any medicine you may need to do this safely.


  • Alcohol Change UK unit calculator - find out how many units are in a drink so you can choose a lower unit alternative
  • Try Dry app - download the app to track your drinking and set personalised goals for cutting down
  • Get alcohol support - find local support if you don't think you can reduce your drinking before your operation