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Preparing for Surgery

What is the difference between outpatient surgery…
What health care professionals will be involved in…
What can I do to help ensure my surgery will go smoothly?
What is involved in a presurgery checkup?
What preparation may be necessary before surgery?
What do I need to do the day of surgery?
What preoperative preparation may occur?
What will happen once I am in the operating room?
What should I expect when the operation is over?
What things do I need to know before I go home?
How long will it take to recover?

What is the difference between outpatient surgery and inpatient surgery?

Outpatient surgery (also called ambulatory or same-day surgery) does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. This means that you can go home the same day as your surgery if your condition is stable, but you will need someone to drive you home.

Outpatient surgery can be done in a hospital, doctor’s office, surgical center, or clinic.

Inpatient surgery takes place in a hospital and requires one or more overnight stays.

What health care professionals will be involved in surgery?

Every health care provider leads a team of health care professionals who all work together to care for you before, during, and after your surgery.

  • Nurses will assist your doctor during surgery, perform special tasks, help make you more comfortable, and routinely check on you after surgery.
  • There may be a resident or fellow that assists or watches your surgery.
  • There will be an anesthesiologist is the person in charge of giving anesthesia and checking its effects during the surgery.

What can I do help ensure my surgery will go smoothly?

  • If you are taking any medications, let your doctor know all of them that you are taking, and ask your doctor if you should keep taking them before or after surgery.
  • Follow a special diet if your health care provider suggests it.
  • If you have diabetes, making sure your blood glucose levels are under control before surgery can help with the healing process.
  • If you smoke, be sure to stop smoking before your surgery because general anesthesia affects the normal function of your lungs.

What is involved in a pre-surgery checkup?

You may need to have a physical exam a week or two before your surgery to test:

  • Blood and urine
  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (tests heart function).

What preparation may be necessary before surgery?

Preparation depends on the type of surgery you are having.

  • Your health care provider may require you to use a laxative and eat lightly.
  • You may have to use an enema at home a day or two before your surgery.
  • Do not drink alcohol 24 hours before your surgery.

What do I need to do the day of surgery?

  • On your day of surgery do not wear makeup, nail polish, or any jewelry.
  • If you are staying overnight at the hospital, bring only necessary items.
  • You will be given an ID bracelet with your name, birth date, and health care provider’s name on it.
  • Be prepared to go over your health history including:
    • Allergies to food or latex
    • Drug allergies
    • Medications you are taking.

What preoperative preparation may occur?

  • Before your surgery, you will change out of your clothes and into a hospital gown (and possibly a cap).
  • You may be given special stockings to wear, or inflatable devices may be put on your legs.
  • Drugs may be given to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein of the body).
  • You will then be taken to an area to wait until the surgical team is ready for you. Your health care provider or team will confirm your name, birth date, and type of surgery before you go into the operating room.
  • Depending on what type of surgery you are having, the site on your body may be marked with a special pen.
  • An anesthesiologist will then discuss which type of anesthesia you will receive during the surgery.
  • You may receive an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your arm or wrist, which will supply your body with fluids, medications, or blood during and after surgery.
  • You may also be given medications to help you relax or any other medications that your doctor has ordered, such as antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.

What will happen once I am in the operating room?

  • After being taken into the operating room, you will be placed onto the operating table.
  • Monitors will then be placed on various parts of your body to measure your pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen level.
  • The surgical team may ask you your name, birth date, and type of surgery. A final review of medical records and tests may also be done.
  • If you are having general anesthesia, it will be given through your IV line. After you are asleep, a tube called a catheter may be placed in your bladder to drain urine during the surgery.

What should I expect when the operation is over?

  • After your surgery, you will be moved into the recovery area.
  • It is common for patients to feel groggy, confused, and chilly after waking up from surgery.
  • You may also have muscle aches or a sore throat.
  • These problems should not last long, but you may ask for medicine to relieve them.
  • You will continue to be monitored in the recovery room until you are stable.
  • As soon as possible, your nurse will try to have you move around as much as you can. You may be asked to get out of bed and walk around soon after surgery. You may be tired and weak at first, but the sooner you resume activity, the sooner your body’s functions will get back to normal.

What things do I need to know before I go home?

Your doctor will go over instructions on your recovery, including diet, medication, and care of your incision. They will also let you know what things or activities you should avoid and for how long. They will tell you who to call if you have any problems and what complications you should look out for.

How long will it take to recover?

Major inpatient surgeries take a month or more to recover and return to your normal schedule.

Minor operations require less recovery time, but you may still need to cut back on certain activities for a while.