When surgery is needed, it is common for a patient and family to worry. To make things a little easier, we have identified some ways to help you prepare.
The following information is a general outline of what you may expect and how to prepare before and after surgery. We also provide ways you and your family can help to promote optimal healing following surgery.
Before Surgery | Pre-admission Testing | Special Instructions | Day of Surgery | Recovery | After Surgery
Once your doctor decides you need surgery and you agree to have surgery, be sure to tell your doctor these very important things:
- If you have health issues, such as allergies or diabetes, or any of your family members have diabetes. It is important that your care team is aware of diabetes because controlling blood sugar is very important in the healing process before and after surgery.
- If you take medications, herbal or nutrition supplements, weight-loss medications, prescription and over-the-counter, provide the name, dosage and how often you take them.
- Ask your doctor what medicines should not be taken on the days leading up to your surgery or on the day of surgery. Some medicines, such as aspirin and blood thinners, can impair your body’s ability to form a clot and stop bleeding.
- Ask your doctor what medicines should be taken with a sip of water the morning of surgery.
- If you smoke or use tobacco. Smoking decreases the healing of wounds. It is best to stop, or at least limit, the use of tobacco until you heal.
Before surgery, your doctor will give you instructions to help you prepare for the type of surgery you are having. Carefully read and follow those instructions.
Your doctor's office may call the hospital to schedule preadmission tests or ask you to call the hospital's pre-admission testing department (PAT). If you are asked to call, please do so as soon as possible. If the PAT staff has not heard from you, they will call you to schedule a face-to-face meeting or a phone interview to gather additional information needed for your surgery.
The PAT nurse will assist you in getting ready for surgery. During this appointment you can expect to:
- Have necessary blood or urine lab work, an electrocardiogram (EKG) or radiology testing
- Review and sign a surgery permit
- A parent or legal guardian must sign for anyone younger than age 18. The next of kin or legal guardian will sign for a patient who is unable to sign for him/herself. All guardians will need to bring proof of guardianship.
- Review your medical history, including all medications you are currently taking.
- Please bring a complete up-to-date list of your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Have your vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, taken
- Find out when you should arrive at the hospital and where to park
- Receive post-surgery at-home instructions for yourself and your family.
On the day before surgery, the PAT nurse will review your medical chart to make sure it is complete. Additional lab work may be ordered by your doctor on the day of surgery.
Food, Drink and Medications
To avoid problems, it is important to have an empty stomach during surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes water, gum and candy. The only exception may be taking medicines with a sip of water the morning of surgery. If your doctor did not provide that information, tell the PAT nurse, who will check with your doctor and give you the instructions.
CHG Shower and Sleep
Your body needs to be thoroughly washed with a special soap called ChlorHexidine Gluconate (CHG) before surgery. This is because all humans have germs on their skin that may cause an infection after surgery. Taking two showers with CHG soap removes germs and reduces the risk of infection.
The PAT nurse will give you the CHG soap and showering instructions. Do not shave near the surgical site, as this can make it easier to develop an infection. Be sure to put clean sheets on your bed before you go to sleep and use enough covers to keep warm. Keeping the body warm before, during and after surgery lowers the risk of infection.
Please view the video below for detailed instructions on showering and sleeping the night before your surgery.
On the day of surgery, take a second shower with with plain soap and water and follow the same instructions. Remove nail polish and do not apply makeup, lotions or powders. Wear clean, loose-fitting, warm clothing to the hospital.
Please understand that the hospital cannot be responsible for your jewelry and other valuables. Leave them at home or give them to a family member to hold until after your procedure.
At the hospital, you will change into a hospital gown, remove contact lenses if you wear them and tell your nurse if you have dentures or partial plates. Tell the nurse whether you took the two special showers as you were instructed and ask how you will be kept warm during and after surgery.
Be ready to tell the doctor and nurse the following information:
- If you have diabetes or a family history of diabetes
- Medications you normally take (It’s best to bring a written list with you, so leave your medicine bottles at home)
- Medications your doctor said to take with a sip of water that morning and whether you did so.
Final surgical preparations will be done in the surgery pre-op holding area before you are taken to the operating room. A warming blanket will be placed over your body and connected to warm air. Even though you may already feel warm, prewarming with this device is important to prevent loss of heat that can occur when you are asleep during surgery. If the device is not on or needs to provide warmer air, please notify your nurse. An IV to provide fluid may be started. The operating room nurse will check your identification band and may ask a few questions. The anesthesia doctor or nurse who will be putting you to sleep will speak with you and answer any questions you have.
You may ask if you will receive antibiotics to prevent infection and how many doses you will be given. Most patients receive one dose before surgery and another dose on the day after surgery.
One or two of your family members may sit in the surgery waiting area. This is where doctors usually visit with family members after surgery.
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. Your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respirations) will be watched as you begin to wake up. In some hospitals, this room is designed and staffed to care for several patients at a time. Please understand that for your safety and the safety of other patients, visitors may not be allowed in the recovery room. You may be aware of other patients and activities going on around you, but this should not disturb you.
Once you are settled in a post procedure area bed, family members will be able to visit you. However, if family or friends have a cold, respiratory infection or other illness, they should not visit, as this may complicate or extend your recovery.
Family and friends who do visit should wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after visiting you. If you do not see them clean their hands, please ask them to do so. Family and friends who visit you should not touch the surgical wound or dressings.
If you do not see your doctors and nurses washing their hands before and after visiting, please remind them to do so.
Be sure to speak to your nurses and doctors about pain control. While they may not be able to take away all of your pain, they want to make you as comfortable as possible. When pain is controlled, you may heal faster, get your strength back more quickly, feel better sooner and improve your outcome.
If you have additional questions, please speak with your doctor or nurse.