Preparing for Surgery
If surgery is determined to be the most beneficial course of action in your treatment, there are a couple of things that you must do, as directed by your doctor, to maximize the healing potential of the procedure. In any surgical intervention, both physical and mental factors come into play, so it is crucial that you understand how to prepare for surgery well beforehand.
Working with Your Doctor
Before the surgery, your doctor will order/conduct any tests and examinations to determine that your state of health meets the requirements for surgery. In other words, it’s critical for your health to work closely and openly with your doctor to identify any potential conflicting illnesses, medications or injuries that may impact the effectiveness of the surgery or pose a significant risk to your wellbeing.
Once your doctor has achieved a complete diagnosis for your condition, evaluated your health, informed you of your treatment options and the two of you have come to an agreement, a date will be selected, and you will start the process of preparing for your surgery. This can include:
- You and your physician will come to a consensus on all medications you are currently taking and if any need to be stopped before surgery.
- Discuss with your doctor your preferences/needs regarding any potential blood transfusions.
- As those with obesity are at a higher risk of surgical complications and post-operative harm, certain patients may be highly advised, or even required, to lose weight before a surgeon is comfortable to perform a given operation. The doctor may provide a diet and exercise regimen to assist in productive and healthy weight loss, in order for these patients to receive the surgical care they need.
- Stop taking medications such as aspirin or warfarin, which can potentially interfere with your ability to clot properly. Bleeding excessively during surgery is a serious matter and is potentially life-threatening.
- Smokers should stop smoking before surgery since many of the chemicals typically found in most cigarettes are known to interfere with anesthesia. Quitting smoking well ahead of operation can significantly minimize the risk of complications.
- To reduce the risk of post-operative infection, make sure to take care of any outstanding issues pertaining to your teeth, gums, bowel, and bladder.
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet is always important, but especially so in the weeks leading up to an invasive surgical procedure.
- If you are experiencing a bacterial or viral infection in the days leading up to your surgery, immediately inform your doctor. Surgery will have to be postponed until the infection clears up.
- To facilitate your post-operative recovery, make the necessary arrangements with friends and family so that you can get help and support with everyday chores and tasks such as cooking, grocery shopping and doing the laundry.
- You will also want to prepare your living space to minimize potential risk factors (anything that could lead to a risky fall or cut, or anything that could invite airborne contaminants to infect your wound), and support your needs physically (cushions, accessibility, ergonomic and supportive resting areas).
Preparing for Procedure
On the day of the surgery, consider these points:
- Make the necessary arrangements with friends or family to be picked up after surgery. Driving during the first 24 hours of recovery is a liability.
- Do not eat or drink anything immediately after surgery, especially during the car ride home as anesthesia can exacerbate motion sickness. It’s okay to wait until you are hungry if you are still feeling nauseas when you arrive home.
- Your first meal should be light, and you should generally avoid greasy foods for at least 24 hours post-surgery.
- Keep all extremities such as hands, elbows, or knees that have undergone surgery, elevated to reduce post-operative swelling and pain.
- Take all prescribed medications exactly as directed by your doctor. Remember that pain will worsen as the effects of the anesthesia wear off. It’s advised to preclude the end of the anesthetics with pain medications as to mind the potentially excruciating gap between pain inhibiters immediately following surgery.