How to Prepare Before a Surgery

Wondering how to prepare before a surgery? Here’s what you need to know before you head to the hospital.

Wondering how to prepare before a surgery? Here’s what you need to know before you head to the hospital.

Every year, millions of people get some type of surgery. In fact, the average American will undergo nine surgical procedures in their lifetime. But how do we prepare before a surgery, exactly? Consider these tips to help begin the healing process as quickly as possible.

Preparing for surgery

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

Planning ahead ensures you have a successful procedure and heal faster with a smooth recovery. There are a few steps you should take before your procedure, so you’ll feel as prepared as possible. Start with answering these questions:

  • Are your doctors qualified? Ask your surgeon about their experience to ensure they have the proper training and that you like them.
  • Where can I find out information about my surgery? Make sure you ask your surgeon about the operation you are going to have, and that you understand what they are saying. It is ok to ask questions more than once to make sure you understand what is to happen. It is easy to look at information on the internet, but there is no guarantee that that information is accurate and truthful, so be very careful using the internet as a source of information.
  • Am I as healthy as I can be? You’ll want to be in the best state of health you can be before your scheduled surgery. If you don’t exercise regularly, consider yoga or stretching. This will improve your strength and help you get around a little easier once you are in recovery.
  • What is my recovery going to look like? Ask your surgeon about activity limitations, pain management expectations, any special care requirements afterwards; ask them what you need to do to help you heal from the operation.

What to expect the day of surgery

You’ll be asked to come in a few hours before your scheduled procedure. A nurse will conduct a pre-operative assessment, including taking your vital signs and starting an IV, and you will get changed into a hospital gown.

The anesthesiologist will then speak with you in the pre-operative area to discuss your anesthesia. Different types of anesthesia may be used for your surgery and will depend on your personal medical history, the type of procedure and your surgeon’s preference. With all types of anesthesia, you will be monitored closely to provide you with the safest anesthetic and best surgical outcome possible.

Lastly, your surgeon will visit with you to confirm the procedure you are having and the surgical site. Sometimes, your body will also be marked while you are awake. This will prevent the wrong body part or wrong side of the body from being operated on.

Do I need to stay in the hospital after my surgery?

Some operations can be done where you go home the same day you had surgery; this is called outpatient surgery. Once anesthesia has cleared, you are evaluated to make sure you can go home okay. If you received anesthesia, you will not be allowed to take yourself home, you will need someone to help you go home.

Other operations require you to stay in the hospital afterwards, sometimes it is for a night, sometimes longer. You could recover in a regular hospital bed, or you may need to recover in a more monitored setting, like an intensive care unit.

What is important is that you have this conversation with your surgeon beforehand. They should prepare you as to what your recovery will look like, and what your hospital stay will be like. Know that if you have to stay in the hospital, you will have a team of people looking after you, including physicians, nurses, and other members of the hospital staff.

If you have questions about how to prepare before surgery, find a nearby Valleywise Community Health Center or call 1 (833) VLLYWSE to schedule an in-person or virtual appointment.



About the Author

Ross F. Goldberg, MD, FACS - Surgery

Dr. Ross Goldberg is a District Medical Group physician and the Specialty Ambulatory Medical Director and the Vice-Chairman for the Department of Surgery at Valleywise Health. He is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Creighton University School of Medicine and The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix. He is a practicing Board-Certified General Surgeon at Valleywise Health, as well as an active participant in the General Surgery Residency Program and in teaching medical students across the Valley.

Read more posts by Ross F. Goldberg, MD, FACS  Browse all topics

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