Pre-Op tips To Prepare For Surgery
Surgery is a big event fraught with emotions and worries. Anything can go wrong, right? Plus, there is a lot to do before you have surgery. You have to make sure the bills are paid, the house cleaning is done, you have food in the fridge, the pets are cared for…well, the list goes on and on. All those things are pre-op worries that people go through before having surgery. Yet, rarely do people prepare in advance for the actual surgery pre-op process. Lack of preparedness on surgery day leads to delays or cancellations. To help your surgery day go as smoothly as possible follow our surgery pre-op tips and be prepared for your surgery.
Our surgery pre-op tips:
1. Hydrate: The day before surgery make sure you drink lots of fluids. The rationale for hydrating yourself the day before surgery is threefold:
- You can’t eat or drink for 12 hours or more pre-op. Many people feel dehydrated and experience a dry mouth the day of surgery. It can be uncomfortable and you can’t even have ice chips. That is right, we don’t even give you ice chips pre-op. So drink up the day before surgery for a comfortable experience.
- Hydration helps with the healing process. Body fluids help to deliver nutrients to your cells, organs and skin for faster healing.
- The number one reason I recommend hydrating the day before surgery is so that it is easier to get your IV started. Again, you can’t drink anything for at least 12 hours before your surgery. Even people with great veins are difficult to start if they are dehydrated and their veins are flat. For the best chance at an easy IV start, sip lots of water.
3. At the bottom of your medication list add your medication allergies and the exact reaction you get with each allergy.
4. If you are having day surgery make sure you have a ride home and bring the name and telephone number of the person that is taking you home that day.
5. Do you take any routine medications? Even though you have been told to have nothing by mouth after midnight the day before, there are some medications your doctor might want you to take the morning of surgery. One of the most important medications to take the day of surgery is your blood pressure med. This is especially important if you are taking a beta blocker. Beta blockers are easy to spot because their name ends in an “ol”. For example, atenolol, metoprolol, nadalol. These med are all beta blockers used to slow the heart rate down or lower the blood pressure. Other medications your doctor might want you to take are your thyroid replacement therapy medications, Parkinson’s meds, or anti depressants. Check with your doctor to make sure you know which medications to take and which ones to hold the morning ofsurgery.
6. Speaking of meds, be sure to report all of your medications including over the counter meds. There are many over the counter meds or supplements that are contraindicated for surgery. For example, aspirin and naproxen, ibuprofen and fish oil can all cause bleeding. These meds should not usually be taken the morning of surgery so, again, check with your doctor and know what you should and should not take the morning of surgery.
7. If you are taking morning medications, take them with the smallest sip of water you possible can. The reason you can’t eat anything after midnight on the day of surgery is because it increases your risk of aspiration. If you aspirate the food or fluids in your stomach it will go into your lung and cause a very aggressive and dangerous form of pneumonia. It is lethal, so don’t eat or drink anything the morning of surgery except your meds that have been specified by your surgeon.
8. If you have a C-Pap (or similar) machine for sleep apnea, bring it with you. Don’t leave it in the car, it won’t do anybody any good there. Bring it with you because you may need it in the recovery room.
9. Remove all of your jewelry, including all piercings before coming to the hospital. You can’t go into surgery with metal on your body. Many surgeries require electrical equipment and cautery and an electrical arc during your procedure isn’t really much fun for anyone. If you can’t get your rings off, try harder. Otherwise you may end up having to have them cut off (both your rings and your finger). Your body retains fluid during surgery and your fingers swell. Keeping your rings on may lead to a finger amputation if they cut off the circulation in the digit. I really hate it when that happens!
10. Bathe: Take a shower the evening before surgery and the morning of. Use a strong anti-bacterial soap (your doctor may prescribe a special soap for you to shower with, if so, use that) to reduce the risk of infection.
11. Please, pack light. The best thing you can do for yourself is leave everything at home. Bring your glasses, dentures, hearing aids and the clothes you have to wear to the hospital. That is all. The hospital has everything else you need including hospital issue fashions, hair care, oral care and soap.
Many of those things may have already been on your list but maybe there is something in there that you did not think of. I hope that the next time you are scheduled for surgery you will print my list above and check it off one by one. That way, when you meet your nurses, anesthesiologist, and surgeon on the day of your surgery you can tell them that you are ready!