Preparing for Surgery

Reviewed Jun 30, 2017

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Summary

For a good outcome from surgery:

  • Get your body and mind ready.
  • Prepare your home and family.
  • Know what to expect.

You are going to have an operation. It may be your first or one of many, but you can maximize your chances for success by preparing in advance.

Once you have chosen a surgeon and set a date for the operation, here are things you can do to get ready.

Make good use of your pre-op medical visit

When you meet with the surgeon, be sure to:

  • Bring a complete medical history. Have you had other operations? Do you have any chronic conditions? Allergies? This information is important, so think about it and write it down in advance.
  • Bring a list of all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins you take. The doctor will tell you which to continue or stop taking the day of surgery.
  • Ask about risk. For example, how often does the doctor do this kind of operation?
  • Ask questions. Now is the time to express your fears, hesitations, and concerns. Remember, there are no dumb questions when it comes to your health.

Get your body and mind ready

  • Exercise. Build muscles and stamina to make it easier to recover after surgery.

Walk. Go to a gym. Swim or do low-impact exercises in water to build muscle. The buoyancy of water makes it easy to exercise, painlessly.

If you cannot walk, try strength training with light weights, from a chair. Ask your doctor for advice on how to do this. 

  • Feed your body well.
    • Stick to a healthy diet. Take vitamins if your doctor says to.
    • Stop drinking or limit alcohol a month in advance.
    • Don’t smoke.
    • Your doctor may want you to take iron pills before your operation.
  • Do some general body maintenance.
    • Wash and cut your hair.   
    • Trim your nails.
    • Go to the dentist.
    • Shave just before you go into the hospital because you may not be able to do it for a while. Before the operation, you must remove all nail polish, piercings, and jewelry.
    • Lose some weight if you need to.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It’s important for you to be in tip-top shape to withstand the physical stress of surgery.
    • Prepare emotionally.
    • Learn all you can about the operation.
    • Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
    • Reduce stress through meditation, yoga, or other spiritual means.

Get your life organized

  • Wrap up any unfinished business.
    • Pay bills.
    • Write and mail letters.
    • Make arrangements for pet or child care well in advance.
  •  Clean your house or arrange to have it cleaned while you are away. After surgery, you will want clean surroundings, with clean towels, bed linens, and clothes.
  • Stock your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with healthy food that’s easy to fix. 
  • Tell friends and family how to reach you.  You will want all the support you can get.
  • Make your home post-op friendly. You might need to set up your home to accommodate your post-op needs.
    • If you won’t be able to bend over or reach up high, rearrange your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, putting important items at eye level.
    • Get a shower stool.
    • Install grab bars and a hand-held shower in the bathroom if you expect to have mobility problems.
    • Remove loose rugs and move anything you might slip on or trip over while you are recovering.
    • Install double banisters on stairways if you expect to have trouble walking.
  • Decide where you will go after surgery. Some people go home right away, but others need more skilled nursing care. They may go to a nursing home or rehabilitation or extended care center. Find out what your insurance covers. Discuss the possibilities with your physician and family. Check out care center ratings online.
  • Gather things you might want to take along, such as:
    • Pajama bottoms or shorts
    • Loose-fitting clothes
    • A light wrap or robe
    • A cell phone and charger (some hospitals will allow)
    • An eye mask or ear plugs because hospitals can be noisy at night
    • A notebook and a few pens so you can take notes when you get instructions or information from your physician

Know what to expect

  • Lots of medical preparation. You will spend much of the week before surgery going for tests, X-rays, exams, and/or informational programs.
  • Some pain, stiffness, or weakness, depending on the surgery. Remember, you won’t feel pain during the operation. If you have pain, it will come later, as anesthesia wears off. Don’t worry because you will have an entire team of medical professionals working to keep you comfortable so your body can begin to heal.
  • Constipation. Some medications cause it, and so do inactivity and dehydration. Move around as much as possible. Eat lightly and drink plenty of water.
  • Bathing restrictions. To protect you from infection, your doctor  might limit you to sponge baths for a short time after surgery.
  • Fuzzy thinking. Surgery drugs and pain medicine fog your mind. Write down important information in a notebook, or ask someone to be your note taker for instructions from the doctor, pharmacist, and nurses.
  • Boredom and interrupted sleep. Catch naps when you can because you might not have extended periods for sound sleep.
  • Dietary changes. Your doctor may tell you to eat special foods or drop some foods from your diet for a while.

You will heal from the outside in, and all healing takes time. Be patient. Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. If you have questions, ask. Don’t guess! 

The rest is up to you. If you add quality food, exercise, rest, and strict adherence to your doctor’s instructions, you should do well.

Resources

The Mayo Clinic
www.mayoclinic.org

Slideshow:Getting Ready for Surgery, WebMD
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/ss/slideshow-surgery-prep-10

Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster (4th ed.) by Peggy Huddleston. Angel River Press, 2012. 

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Timothy K. Kingston, MD, The Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE; Robert Krushell, MD, New England Orthopedics, Springfield, MA

Summary

For a good outcome from surgery:

  • Get your body and mind ready.
  • Prepare your home and family.
  • Know what to expect.

You are going to have an operation. It may be your first or one of many, but you can maximize your chances for success by preparing in advance.

Once you have chosen a surgeon and set a date for the operation, here are things you can do to get ready.

Make good use of your pre-op medical visit

When you meet with the surgeon, be sure to:

  • Bring a complete medical history. Have you had other operations? Do you have any chronic conditions? Allergies? This information is important, so think about it and write it down in advance.
  • Bring a list of all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins you take. The doctor will tell you which to continue or stop taking the day of surgery.
  • Ask about risk. For example, how often does the doctor do this kind of operation?
  • Ask questions. Now is the time to express your fears, hesitations, and concerns. Remember, there are no dumb questions when it comes to your health.

Get your body and mind ready

  • Exercise. Build muscles and stamina to make it easier to recover after surgery.

Walk. Go to a gym. Swim or do low-impact exercises in water to build muscle. The buoyancy of water makes it easy to exercise, painlessly.

If you cannot walk, try strength training with light weights, from a chair. Ask your doctor for advice on how to do this. 

  • Feed your body well.
    • Stick to a healthy diet. Take vitamins if your doctor says to.
    • Stop drinking or limit alcohol a month in advance.
    • Don’t smoke.
    • Your doctor may want you to take iron pills before your operation.
  • Do some general body maintenance.
    • Wash and cut your hair.   
    • Trim your nails.
    • Go to the dentist.
    • Shave just before you go into the hospital because you may not be able to do it for a while. Before the operation, you must remove all nail polish, piercings, and jewelry.
    • Lose some weight if you need to.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It’s important for you to be in tip-top shape to withstand the physical stress of surgery.
    • Prepare emotionally.
    • Learn all you can about the operation.
    • Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
    • Reduce stress through meditation, yoga, or other spiritual means.

Get your life organized

  • Wrap up any unfinished business.
    • Pay bills.
    • Write and mail letters.
    • Make arrangements for pet or child care well in advance.
  •  Clean your house or arrange to have it cleaned while you are away. After surgery, you will want clean surroundings, with clean towels, bed linens, and clothes.
  • Stock your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with healthy food that’s easy to fix. 
  • Tell friends and family how to reach you.  You will want all the support you can get.
  • Make your home post-op friendly. You might need to set up your home to accommodate your post-op needs.
    • If you won’t be able to bend over or reach up high, rearrange your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, putting important items at eye level.
    • Get a shower stool.
    • Install grab bars and a hand-held shower in the bathroom if you expect to have mobility problems.
    • Remove loose rugs and move anything you might slip on or trip over while you are recovering.
    • Install double banisters on stairways if you expect to have trouble walking.
  • Decide where you will go after surgery. Some people go home right away, but others need more skilled nursing care. They may go to a nursing home or rehabilitation or extended care center. Find out what your insurance covers. Discuss the possibilities with your physician and family. Check out care center ratings online.
  • Gather things you might want to take along, such as:
    • Pajama bottoms or shorts
    • Loose-fitting clothes
    • A light wrap or robe
    • A cell phone and charger (some hospitals will allow)
    • An eye mask or ear plugs because hospitals can be noisy at night
    • A notebook and a few pens so you can take notes when you get instructions or information from your physician

Know what to expect

  • Lots of medical preparation. You will spend much of the week before surgery going for tests, X-rays, exams, and/or informational programs.
  • Some pain, stiffness, or weakness, depending on the surgery. Remember, you won’t feel pain during the operation. If you have pain, it will come later, as anesthesia wears off. Don’t worry because you will have an entire team of medical professionals working to keep you comfortable so your body can begin to heal.
  • Constipation. Some medications cause it, and so do inactivity and dehydration. Move around as much as possible. Eat lightly and drink plenty of water.
  • Bathing restrictions. To protect you from infection, your doctor  might limit you to sponge baths for a short time after surgery.
  • Fuzzy thinking. Surgery drugs and pain medicine fog your mind. Write down important information in a notebook, or ask someone to be your note taker for instructions from the doctor, pharmacist, and nurses.
  • Boredom and interrupted sleep. Catch naps when you can because you might not have extended periods for sound sleep.
  • Dietary changes. Your doctor may tell you to eat special foods or drop some foods from your diet for a while.

You will heal from the outside in, and all healing takes time. Be patient. Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. If you have questions, ask. Don’t guess! 

The rest is up to you. If you add quality food, exercise, rest, and strict adherence to your doctor’s instructions, you should do well.

Resources

The Mayo Clinic
www.mayoclinic.org

Slideshow:Getting Ready for Surgery, WebMD
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/ss/slideshow-surgery-prep-10

Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster (4th ed.) by Peggy Huddleston. Angel River Press, 2012. 

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Timothy K. Kingston, MD, The Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE; Robert Krushell, MD, New England Orthopedics, Springfield, MA

Summary

For a good outcome from surgery:

  • Get your body and mind ready.
  • Prepare your home and family.
  • Know what to expect.

You are going to have an operation. It may be your first or one of many, but you can maximize your chances for success by preparing in advance.

Once you have chosen a surgeon and set a date for the operation, here are things you can do to get ready.

Make good use of your pre-op medical visit

When you meet with the surgeon, be sure to:

  • Bring a complete medical history. Have you had other operations? Do you have any chronic conditions? Allergies? This information is important, so think about it and write it down in advance.
  • Bring a list of all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins you take. The doctor will tell you which to continue or stop taking the day of surgery.
  • Ask about risk. For example, how often does the doctor do this kind of operation?
  • Ask questions. Now is the time to express your fears, hesitations, and concerns. Remember, there are no dumb questions when it comes to your health.

Get your body and mind ready

  • Exercise. Build muscles and stamina to make it easier to recover after surgery.

Walk. Go to a gym. Swim or do low-impact exercises in water to build muscle. The buoyancy of water makes it easy to exercise, painlessly.

If you cannot walk, try strength training with light weights, from a chair. Ask your doctor for advice on how to do this. 

  • Feed your body well.
    • Stick to a healthy diet. Take vitamins if your doctor says to.
    • Stop drinking or limit alcohol a month in advance.
    • Don’t smoke.
    • Your doctor may want you to take iron pills before your operation.
  • Do some general body maintenance.
    • Wash and cut your hair.   
    • Trim your nails.
    • Go to the dentist.
    • Shave just before you go into the hospital because you may not be able to do it for a while. Before the operation, you must remove all nail polish, piercings, and jewelry.
    • Lose some weight if you need to.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It’s important for you to be in tip-top shape to withstand the physical stress of surgery.
    • Prepare emotionally.
    • Learn all you can about the operation.
    • Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
    • Reduce stress through meditation, yoga, or other spiritual means.

Get your life organized

  • Wrap up any unfinished business.
    • Pay bills.
    • Write and mail letters.
    • Make arrangements for pet or child care well in advance.
  •  Clean your house or arrange to have it cleaned while you are away. After surgery, you will want clean surroundings, with clean towels, bed linens, and clothes.
  • Stock your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with healthy food that’s easy to fix. 
  • Tell friends and family how to reach you.  You will want all the support you can get.
  • Make your home post-op friendly. You might need to set up your home to accommodate your post-op needs.
    • If you won’t be able to bend over or reach up high, rearrange your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, putting important items at eye level.
    • Get a shower stool.
    • Install grab bars and a hand-held shower in the bathroom if you expect to have mobility problems.
    • Remove loose rugs and move anything you might slip on or trip over while you are recovering.
    • Install double banisters on stairways if you expect to have trouble walking.
  • Decide where you will go after surgery. Some people go home right away, but others need more skilled nursing care. They may go to a nursing home or rehabilitation or extended care center. Find out what your insurance covers. Discuss the possibilities with your physician and family. Check out care center ratings online.
  • Gather things you might want to take along, such as:
    • Pajama bottoms or shorts
    • Loose-fitting clothes
    • A light wrap or robe
    • A cell phone and charger (some hospitals will allow)
    • An eye mask or ear plugs because hospitals can be noisy at night
    • A notebook and a few pens so you can take notes when you get instructions or information from your physician

Know what to expect

  • Lots of medical preparation. You will spend much of the week before surgery going for tests, X-rays, exams, and/or informational programs.
  • Some pain, stiffness, or weakness, depending on the surgery. Remember, you won’t feel pain during the operation. If you have pain, it will come later, as anesthesia wears off. Don’t worry because you will have an entire team of medical professionals working to keep you comfortable so your body can begin to heal.
  • Constipation. Some medications cause it, and so do inactivity and dehydration. Move around as much as possible. Eat lightly and drink plenty of water.
  • Bathing restrictions. To protect you from infection, your doctor  might limit you to sponge baths for a short time after surgery.
  • Fuzzy thinking. Surgery drugs and pain medicine fog your mind. Write down important information in a notebook, or ask someone to be your note taker for instructions from the doctor, pharmacist, and nurses.
  • Boredom and interrupted sleep. Catch naps when you can because you might not have extended periods for sound sleep.
  • Dietary changes. Your doctor may tell you to eat special foods or drop some foods from your diet for a while.

You will heal from the outside in, and all healing takes time. Be patient. Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. If you have questions, ask. Don’t guess! 

The rest is up to you. If you add quality food, exercise, rest, and strict adherence to your doctor’s instructions, you should do well.

Resources

The Mayo Clinic
www.mayoclinic.org

Slideshow:Getting Ready for Surgery, WebMD
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/ss/slideshow-surgery-prep-10

Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster (4th ed.) by Peggy Huddleston. Angel River Press, 2012. 

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Timothy K. Kingston, MD, The Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE; Robert Krushell, MD, New England Orthopedics, Springfield, MA

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