Getting Ready for Surgery: Tips You Need to Know

September 2, 2021
William Hanner D.O.

When you are planning to have surgery, you likely find yourself with questions about how to prepare. You may be wondering what it is like to have surgery, especially if you are a new patient. And you may have questions about what you need to do, what to expect, and how to care for yourself as you recover. All these questions may have you feeling nervous and unsure of your next steps.  

The good news is, your doctor cares as much about your success as you do. Your surgical team wants you to be happy, healthy, and satisfied with your procedure, and they are ready to help take the steps you need as you get ready for your surgery.

Here are some of the most common things you need to know as you make your preparations.

What You Can Do to Prepare for Your Surgery

Take Care of Your Body

If you are planning for a future surgery, begin to prepare for it now by doing what you can to be in good health. Engage in healthy eating habits and drink adequate amounts of water. Maintain a healthy weight. Get plenty of rest and sleep. Exercise regularly, especially with stretches, yoga, and other activities that strengthen your core—which can help you get back on your feet sooner after your procedure.

Be Open about Your Health History

To enjoy the safest, most effective surgery possible, it is important to make sure your surgical team is well informed. So, do not be shy about sharing your medical history. Make sure the doctor knows about prior surgeries, any health diagnoses you have received, allergies, and reactions you may have had to various medications. Let them know if you drink, smoke, or use recreational drugs—because these habits can influence how well the procedure will go.

Ask Questions to Understand the Procedure

Knowing what to expect is an important part of any surgery. So, discuss your procedure with your doctor, and learn all you can. Ask any questions you have and share any concerns, so that you can be confident in what to expect before, during and after your surgery.

Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • What type of anesthesia will I receive?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • Will I be sent home as an outpatient, or will I need inpatient care before being released?
  • Is there anything you need to know about my health history prior to the procedure?
  • What are the general risks of this procedure?
  • What are my specific risks, related to my personal health history, weight, age, etc.?
  • Would it make sense for me or my family members to give blood to be stored for use during my procedure?

Check out this article on what to know about anesthesia and what it is like to be put to sleep for surgery.

Find Out What Medications You Should Pause Before Surgery

You may need to pause certain medications before surgery, such as ibuprofen, blood thinners, and aspirin. These medications can make it harder for your doctor to control bleeding, so it will be necessary to temporarily stop them. You may also be asked to stop the use of vitamins and over-the-counter herbal supplements, which can sometimes affect bleeding, anesthesia and more.

Other medications, such as for blood pressure, can often be taken as usual. Your doctor will be able to tell you which medications you can safely take before your procedure.

So, make sure your surgeon knows what vitamins, herbal supplements and prescriptions you take regularly, and follow any instructions you receive about pausing or continuing them.

Discuss Pain Management

Many surgical procedures can result in minimal pain, while others may require significant pain management plans. Find out what your doctor recommends in terms of handling any discomfort. If you have allergies to specific drugs or have any concerns about what you will be prescribed, discuss this ahead of time so that appropriate accommodations can be made for your specific situation.

Check out this article to learn more about handling pain after surgery. 

Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Prior to your procedure, you will get a set of instructions to follow. These are intended to keep you safe during the use of anesthesia and lessen the likelihood you would need to delay or reschedule the surgery.

Be sure to stop eating and drinking within the timeframe the doctor gives you, so that you will have no risks of vomiting, choking or other complications. Avoid alcohol, which can impede how well the anesthesia works. Make any dietary changes the doctor requests.

Bring Comfortable Clothes and Needed Supplies

Wear comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and remove, such as pants with an elastic waistband, a shirt that buttons up, and slide-on shoes. This makes it easier to dress and move about after the procedure is completed.

If you will be staying overnight in the hospital, bring anything you need with you, such as prescribed medications, phone and charger, books, and a list of contacts and their phone numbers if needed.

Use Relaxation Techniques

It is natural to experience nerves and anxious thoughts prior to having surgery. Managing your concerns and emotions will help you gain peace of mind. And staying calm can help lower your blood pressure, which also helps you successfully get through your procedure.

Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have, and learn as much as you can about what to expect. In addition, consider adopting some practices that help you calm yourself, such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.

Make Plans for Your Recovery Needs

Identify the people who will help you with your care. You may need to coordinate a ride to and from the surgical center or hospital, as well as have someone stay with you overnight afterwards. You may also want to schedule meal deliveries, stock your fridge with pre-made meals, or hire a part-time caregiver to assist you until you are fully recovered. 

What Your Surgeon Will Do to Prepare You for Surgery

Just as patients prepare for their procedure, your doctor will do so as well. There are several standard steps your surgeon will take to ensure the procedure goes smoothly. Depending on what your procedure is, these steps may include the following:

Confirm the Procedure’s Specifics

Your doctor may speak with you prior to the surgery to confirm the specific procedure you are getting. They may mark an X on the spot on your body that will be operated on. They will likely discuss any final details and give you time to ask any remaining questions before the surgery begins.

Order Appropriate Tests

Prior to your procedure, your surgeon may request a variety of tests to ensure the surgery and your recovery go as smoothly as possible. Depending on your situation and the procedure, your doctor may wish to test: 

  • Urine — to ensure there are no unexpected drugs in your system that would cause problems with the safe administration of anesthesia.
  • Blood — to confirm you have no infections that could complicate your recovery.
  • Pregnancy — to confirm whether or not you are pregnant.
  • Heart — to ensure it is functioning well enough to endure the procedure.
  • Scans and X-rays — to identify areas that need to be addressed, such as masses to be biopsied or removed.

These tests help alleviate their questions and remove any concerns they may have about how well you will do during and after your procedure.

Set up an IV

You will likely be given an IV before or during surgery to allow for any necessary medications and fluids to be easily administered. In most cases, this is a routine procedure, and the IV will be removed as soon as it is safe to do so.

Trusted Surgery that Gets You Back to Health

Surgery does not have to be intimidating when you have the right team of medical professionals assisting you with your procedure. 

At Midtown Surgical & Skin Institute, we provide individualized care plans so you can rest assured you are getting the best medical approach for your unique situation. Our expert surgical techniques are designed to make your procedure and recovery go smoothly, so you can get back to the healthy lifestyle you desire.

Contact our team today to set up a consultation that gives you peace of mind about your health.

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