Preparing for Surgery

If you’re planning to have surgery, you’ll want to spend some time preparing. This includes taking care of your health, learning as much as you can about the procedure, and getting to know the people who will be taking care of you. 

Surgeries can be divided into two groups: Outpatient and Inpatient Surgeries

Outpatient surgery also called ambulatory or same–day surgery does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. You can go home the same day if your condition is stable. Please make provision for someone to drive you home.

Inpatient surgery is one that requires an overnight stay. This is usually a major surgery that requires more time for recovery after anesthesia, closer monitoring, and further nursing care.

In the following sections, you will find general tips and information on things you can do to prepare for your surgery. 

  • If you smoke, try to stop smoking before your surgery. This is because general anesthesia has an impact on the normal functioning of your lungs.
  • If you are taking medication, ask your surgeon if you should keep taking it before or after the surgery. Some medications like blood thinners might need to be suspended shortly before the surgery.
  • Make sure the surgeon knows all of the medications you are taking, including those that have been prescribed for you and those that are bought over-the-counter, such as vitamins, herbs, or other supplements
  • Follow a special diet before surgery if your health care provider suggests it. If you have diabetes, controlling your glucose levels before surgery may improve healing and help avoid complications

After being evaluated by the surgeon, you will need to have an evaluation by the anesthesiologist. In this visit, you will be explained the proposed type of anesthesia and will have a physical exam to make sure you are in optimal conditions for the anesthetic procedure. If you are above 40 years of age or have cardiovascular risk factors your doctor will indicate that you have a pre-surgical evaluation with an Internist, to make sure you are in optimal conditions to have the surgery performed.

For these pre-surgical evaluations, you will need to have clinical laboratory tests, which may include tests of your blood and urine, a chest X-Ray, and an electrocardiogram. An electrocardiogram is a test of your heart’s function with an instrument that prints out the results as a graph.

Do not wear makeup and remove any nail polish or acrylic nails.  All jewelry usually needs to be removed from your body before the surgery. 

If you will be staying overnight, bring only those items you will need, including a case for glasses, contact lenses, or dentures.

After checking in with the Billing and Admissions Office, the nurses will help you get ready for your surgery. They will go over your health history, as well as any drug allergies, or allergies to food or latex (some surgical gloves are made of latex). You will also be asked what medications you are taking.

You will change from your clothes into a hospital gown, cap, and covering for your feet. You may be given medications to reduce the risk of forming clots in your veins. Then you will be taken to an area to wait until the surgical team is ready for you. A member of the surgical team will confirm your name, birth date, and type of surgery before you go to the operating room. If the surgery is to be done on one side of your body, the site may be marked with a special pen.  At this time an intravenous line may be placed into a vein in your arm or wrist. It is used to administer fluids, medication, or blood during and after the surgery.

After you have been taken into the operating room, you will be moved to the operating table. Monitors will be attached to various parts of your body to measure your pulse, oxygen level, and blood pressure.

The surgical team may again ask you your name, date of birth, and what operation you are having. A final review of medical records and tests may be done. This is all for your safety. 

The anesthesiologist will then proceed to administer the anesthesia. After you are asleep, a tube called a catheter may be placed in your bladder to drain urine. The surgical team will then perform the surgical procedure 

Once the surgery is over, you will be moved into the recovery area or to your room if you are staying overnight.

Many patients feel groggy, confused, and chilly when they wake up after an operation. You may have muscle aches or a sore throat shortly after surgery. These problems should not last long and you can ask for medicine to relieve them. 

As soon as possible, your nurses will have you move around as much as you can. You may be encouraged to get out of bed and walk around soon after your operation. You may feel tired and weak at first. The sooner you resume activity, the sooner your body’s functions can get back to normal.

Before you leave, a nurse or the doctor will go over any instructions on diet, medicine, and care of your incision. You will be told what things or activities you should avoid and for how long.

You should know whom to call if you have a problem and what things you should call your health care provider about, such as a fever or increased vaginal bleeding.

If you have had major inpatient surgery, it will most likely take a month or more before you are ready to resume your normal schedule. Laparoscopic Surgery has the benefit of faster recovery even though it is a major surgery Minor surgeries require less recovery time, but you may need to cut back on certain activities for a while.

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