Due to the effects of general anaesthesia on your lungs there is an increased risk of developing respiratory complications with major surgery.

This can cause a reduced ability to take a deep breath and clear secretions due to pain, not being as mobile and dry airways.  If secretions are not cleared regularly it can become infected which can slow your recovery.  The following group of exercises known as the Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT) are therefore advised for a few days after your operation.  These would be good to practise before surgery to help you practise the technique. 


  1. Relaxed Breathing (4-5 breaths) - relaxed normal breathing. Place your hand on your stomach.  You should feel it expand when you breathe in. 
  2. Deep breathing (3-4 breaths) - Breathe in through your nose as deeply as you can, hold your breath in for a few seconds and breathe out. 
  3. Repeat relaxed breathing – step 2. 
  4. Huffing – This removes secretions from your chest in smaller steps.  Take in half a breath, then force the air out like you were steaming up a mirror.  Repeat 2-3 times. 
  5. Cough – This aims to clear any secretions from your chest.  Place a folded towel over your wound for support, cough and spit out any phlegm.   
  6. Repeat steps 1 –5 twice. 
  7. Repeat this every hour you are awake for the first few days after your surgery.