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How to be Better Prepared for Your Surgery

Being prepared for your procedure helps you, your family and your doctor.  Below are some common guidelines.  Always check with your doctor for your personal instructions as each procedure and patient with have their own unique details to follow.

2 weeks before:   Make sure you understand your procedure completely.  If you have additional questions, it is never too early to ask. Review your medications with your doctor and make sure you are aware of any modifications you will need to make for your surgery.  If you smoke, stop smoking.  Among other things the side effects of smoking result in decreased circulation, weakened lung function, and increased blood pressure; all of which either stifle your recovery or can even cancel your surgery altogether.  Focus on a healthy regimen. Eat healthy, try to get good sleep, and stay away from those that may have a contagious illness.

1 week before:   Think about what you will need available at home for your upcoming procedure and get started on reviewing those items. Things on this list should include comfortable clothing, freshly washed bed sheets, wound care items, and bland, soothing food items such as soups, crackers and carbonated water.  This is also the time to make transportation arrangements and inform your family of how long you will be at the surgical facility. 4-6 hours is a common length of time for a day surgery (also called ambulatory or short-stay).  This is based on an average time of one hour before the surgery starts, 1-2 hours during, and 1-2 hours for recovery.  You will not be allowed to drive home by yourself. If your doctors recommends an in-hospital length of stay for your procedures, expect to stay in the hospital at least overnight.

The Day before:   Have a current list of all the medications you take, their dosages, and how many times a day you take them.  Bring this with you on the day of your surgery. Also, if you are allergic to any medications, provide a list of these and mark the list clearly as “ALLERGIES”.   There will be a period of time that your doctor does not what you to eat or drink before your surgery.  This is usually after midnight. 

The Day of:   Arrive early.  At least an hour early is usually expected.  Leave your valuables at home.  If you wear dentures or eye glasses, bring a carrying case with your name clearly written on it so that they do not get lost. If you are nervous, you may want to bring something to read while you wait in the patient waiting room/bed prior to your surgery or, if allowed, have a family member at your bedside for support. Don’t be afraid to tell your nurse if you are nervous.  They are happy to help offer reassurance or discuss with your doctor the possibility for an early sedative.  After your surgery you will wake in the recovery area and your nurse will monitor your progress until you are awake enough to safely leave the recovery area with assistance.

After your Surgery:   You and the family member or friend that is assisting you during this time need to both read the post-op instructions given to you thoroughly. During the next several days always be aware of the signs of infection. These signs can include fever, increased redness, swelling or drainage at the incision. Keep your wound clean and dry.  Take your medications as directed, follow your post-operative instructions carefully, and make sure to keep your follow up appointment with your doctor.  If you have been prescribed pain medications you should take those medications as directed and with food as they may upset an empty stomach. During your recovery, if you have any symptoms that indicate you are not recovering as expected, call your doctor ASAP.