How to Prepare for Your Surgery
If you’re scheduled for an upcoming operation, you may be anxious and unsure of what to expect. You’re not alone.
While there is no absolute way to prepare for your surgery, there are a few key things that you can do ahead of time to get ready.
Talking with your surgeon, compiling a list of medications you take and packing items you’ll need at the hospital can help you feel more prepared for surgery.
Adam D. Bitterman, DO, an orthopedic surgery resident at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, tells us what you should and shouldn’t do before surgery and provides tips to help ensure a smooth experience in the hospital.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with their patients to help prevent injury and encourage the body’s natural tendency toward self-healing.
Talk With Your Surgeon
So you can address concerns ahead of time, Dr. Bitterman recommends the following tips as you prepare for your surgery:
- Arranging time to see your surgeon several weeks before your scheduled surgery.
- Discussing all of your concerns with your surgeon.
- Postponing your surgery if you are ill or have a fever before your scheduled procedure.
Take this time to ask questions about your procedure and to determine which lab tests and medications may be required before the surgery.
Compile a List of Your Medications
You don’t want to assume that staff at the operating hospital know your complete medical history or all of your prescriptions. “Before going to the hospital, prepare a complete list of your medications and share it with hospital staff,” advises Dr. Bitterman. “It’s important to share all of this information because some medications can cause problems during and after surgery,” he explains. Your list should include the names and prescribed dosage amounts for all:
- Prescription medications
- Birth controls, as they can interfere with some treatments and become less effective when combined with some medications
- Non-prescription medications, including drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin and Tylenol
- Dietary supplements, vitamins
- Herbal remedies, as they can interfere with drugs you’ll receive in the hospital and may mask or mimic symptoms
- Alternative medications, such as homeopathic preparations
If you don’t have time to assemble all this information, Dr. Bitterman suggests putting all your pill bottles in a bag and bringing it with you to the hospital. He also warns against hiding habits from your surgeon. “Admit if you haven’t been following the prescribed dosage for your medications and tell your surgeon if you’ve cheated on your diet or are smoking,” he stresses. “It’s your doctor’s job to help you get well; however, they can’t do that without accurate and complete information from you.”
Also, remember to mention side effects, unusual reactions or allergies to any medications, especially to drugs such as penicillin or aspirin.
Pack Only Essentials for Your Hospital Stay
Since storage space at the hospital is generally very limited, Dr. Bitterman recommends bringing only the items you will need for an overnight stay, including:
- Insurance and identification cards
- Toiletries, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, comb/hairbrush, facecloth, soap and towel
- Pajamas/nightdress and slippers or soft shoes
- Any special items needed after surgery, such as hearing aid, cane, crutches, glasses, etc.
- Clothes to wear when you go home such as a sweat suit or something easy to put on and take off
- A book, magazine, or crossword puzzles or music (and headphones) to pass the time
- A small amount of cash
A Successful Recovery
Dr. Bitterman stresses that being as healthy as possible before the surgery well positions you for a successful recovery. Eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking and even walking as much as your doctor allows post-surgery will positively impact your body’s ability to heal. “With good preparation and consultation, you’ll be well on your way to a successful surgery and better health, he says.”