10 Tips to Help you Prepare for Surgery: A Guide for Patients

Preparing for surgery

Undergoing surgery can be an anxiety provoking and overwhelming experience, but proper preparation can help alleviate some of the stress and ensure a smoother process. By taking proactive steps and familiarizing yourself with the preoperative guidelines, you can play an active role in preparing for the day of surgery. We aim to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to prepare yourself physically, mentally, and logistically, ensuring a successful and comfortable surgical journey.

1. Communicate with Your Surgical Team

Open and clear communication with your surgical team is crucial. Make sure to ask questions, seek clarifications, and discuss any concerns you may have. Your healthcare provider will guide you through the process, provide specific instructions, and address any doubts you might have.

2. Follow Your Preoperative Instructions

Follow all preoperative instructions provided by your healthcare team. These may include guidelines regarding fasting (abstaining from food and drink for a certain period), restrictions on medications, and personal care routines such as bathing or skincare. Adhering to these instructions will help prevent complications during and after the surgery.

3. Arrange Transportation and Accommodation

Make transportation arrangements well in advance. Ensure that someone responsible can drive you to the hospital and back home after the procedure. If required, arrange for overnight accommodations close to the hospital to minimize travel-related stress and ensure easy access on the day of surgery.

4. Organize Your Personal Affairs

Before your surgery, take care of any pending personal affairs such as paying bills, notifying employers or family members, and organizing important documents. This proactive approach will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on your recovery without any additional stress.

5. Prepare Your Home

Ensure that your home environment is conducive to recovery before leaving for surgery. Clean and tidy your living space to avoid clutter and minimize the risk of accidents. Set up a comfortable resting area with essential items within easy reach, such as medications, water, remote controls, and phone chargers.

6. Reach Out to Your Support System

Reach out to family members, friends, or neighbors who can provide assistance during your recovery period. Inform them of your surgery date and discuss any specific needs you may have, such as help with daily chores or meal preparation. Having a strong support system in place can greatly ease your post-surgical experience.

7. Prepare Clothing and Personal Items

On the day of surgery, wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that can be easily taken off and put on. Avoid wearing jewelry, makeup, or nail polish, as these may interfere with medical procedures or monitoring devices. Bring a small bag containing necessary personal items such as identification, insurance information, and any required medical documents.

8. Get Yourself Mentally and Emotionally Ready

Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally is as crucial as physical preparation. Engage in relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, or meditation to help manage anxiety and promote a positive mindset. Surround yourself with supportive and uplifting influences to stay mentally resilient and focused on your recovery.

9. Follow Pre-operative Diet Guidelines

If your surgical team has provided dietary guidelines, ensure you follow them strictly. A healthy, balanced diet before surgery can contribute to a better outcome. Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol or excessive caffeine intake, as they can affect your body’s ability to recover and respond to anesthesia.

10. Rest Up

Prioritize a good night’s sleep before your surgery. Getting adequate rest helps improve your body’s ability to recover and promotes optimal healing. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and avoid stimulating activities or electronic devices close to bedtime.

Preparing for surgery can be a nerve-wracking experience, but by following these ten essential tips, you can take charge of your preoperative journey and set yourself up for a smoother recovery.

About the Author

Dave Harrison, MD

Dr. Harrison is a board certified Emergency Physician with a part time appointment at San Francisco General Medical Center and is an Assistant Clinical Professor-Volunteer at the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Harrison attended medical school at Tufts University and completed his Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Southern California. Dr. Harrison manages the editorial process for SpineInfo.com.