In the days and weeks leading up to your surgery, you will need to start preparing yourself, both mentally and physically. Any surgery can be stressful, but with enough preparation, much of your anxiety will go away.
Educating Yourself Prior to Surgery
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for surgery is by learning about the surgical procedure and asking questions of your doctor. Well-informed patients are often more satisfied with the results of their surgery. Before you arrive at the hospital:
- Meet with your doctor and anesthesiologist. Some hospitals include this as part of the pre-operative assessment.
- Ask many questions of your doctor and anesthesiologist, such as about the risk of complications, healing time, type of anesthesia that will be used and the best ways to speed your recovery.
Attending Your Pre-Operative Assessment
Many hospitals require that you meet with a doctor or nurse before your surgery—either in person or over the phone—one or more days before your operation. During this meeting, you will be asked about:
- Your health
- Your medical history
- Results of previous tests
- Medications, vitamins and herbal supplements that you are taking.
You may also be required to have pre-surgery blood tests. Be sure to follow any directions that your doctor gives you, such as fasting before surgery, when to stop taking your usual medications and what to bring with you.
Fasting Before Surgery
You may be required to stop drinking or eating before your surgery. It’s important that you follow your doctor’s instructions because having food or liquid in your stomach can cause you to vomit during or after surgery.
Packing For Your Trip
Pack an overnight bag with the essentials, such as:
- Nightgown or pajamas
- Day clothes and clean underwear
- Toiletries, including razor and travel-sized bath products
- Books or magazines
- Small amount of money
- Your usual medications
Bring loose-fitting clothes to wear after your surgery. Button-down shirts will be easier to put on than pullovers. Pants with elastic bands may be more comfortable after surgery.
Getting To and From the Hospital
After surgery, you may not feel well enough to drive yourself home. Make arrangements with your friends or family beforehand. Some hospitals may provide assistance with transportation after surgery.
Preparing Your Home for Recovery
When you arrive home after your surgery, the last thing you want to do is worry about shopping for food or cleaning your house. Stock up on healthy foods, buy extra personal hygiene products and medical supplies, and change the linens on your bed.
Take care of these things before your surgery, or ask a friend or family member to help you during your recovery. This may include asking someone to stay at your house to keep an eye on you.
Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Having a healthy lifestyle can speed your recovery after surgery, and reduce the complications and pain associated with surgery. Make changes to your life before surgery, as soon as possible:
- Eat healthier: increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, cut back on foods high in saturated fats and reduce your intake of processed meats.
- Exercise more: Most guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
- Reduce your alcohol intake (or stop completely) at least 1 month before surgery. Alcohol can interact with anesthesia and cause excessive bleeding or liver damage.
- Stop smoking at least 2 weeks before surgery. Smoking increases the risk of infection and surgery complications. Quitting before surgery can also help you heal faster.