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Preparing for surgery

Introduction

Once a decision to have surgery is made with your doctor, you will need to know what to expect from the surgery and how to prepare for it to achieve the best results possible. If you are prepared mentally and physically and know your role in the recovery process, you may have fewer problems.

Before surgery

  • Inform your surgeon if you are taking medications such as blood thinners.  In some cases, patients might have to withhold these medications prior to the surgery. The period of time to withhold the medication also varies and you need to check with your doctor for specific instructions. Inform your doctor of any allergies to medications.

  • Some tests (blood tests, X-rays or an ECG) may be necessary before the surgery. You should do these tests early enough for the results to come through.

  • Discuss with your doctor the options for potential blood replacement should you need a transfusion during the surgery. Donating your own blood may be an option. If you are a Jehovah’s witness, you should inform your doctor.

  • Your anaesthetist may see you before the surgery. This is an important appointment that you should not miss.

  • Report any infection that you may have, so they can get treated before the surgery to avoid complications.

  • Try to stop or cut down on smoking to improve your recovery.

  • Eat a well balanced diet leading up to the surgery.

  • Plan for your transport home after the surgery. You may need someone to drive you home.

  • If you are having surgery in the morning, you should not eat or drink after midnight the evening before your surgery. If you have surgery in the afternoon, you should fast after a light meal at 0700 in the morning.

On the day of the surgery

  • Please arrive early for your surgery.

  • On the morning of the surgery, take only the medications approved by your surgeon with tiny sips of water. In particular, check with your doctor if you can take your diabetes medications on the morning of the surgery.

  • Bring your ID and insurance cards.

  • Remember to bring your list of medications and all the relevant X-rays to the hospital. Some surgeons will refuse to do the surgery if you do not bring the X-ray films along.

After surgery

  • After the surgery, be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding diet, medication and activity. In general, you should limit yourself to light activities. At the same time, do not lie in bed all day as that increases the risks of chest infection and blood clots in the legs.

  • Do not drive, smoke, drink alcoholic beverages or operate heavy machineries for 24 hours after the surgery.

  • After arriving home, wait until you are hungry before trying a light meal. You may still be nauseous from the effects of the anaesthesia.

  • Take your pain medication as directed. You may need to take it as soon as you start feeling uncomfortable and before the pain gets severe.

  • Check with your doctor when you can go back to work and whether there are any work restrictions in the early period.

  • Contact your surgeon immediately if you develop fever or other infection.

  • Contact your surgeon if you have any concerns or questions regarding your recovery.

  • You should attend your post-op appointment so your doctor can check for any complications.