Preparing For Surgery

Once you and your doctor decide that surgery is right for you, you will need to learn what to expect following your procedure, including developing a treatment plan to promote the best possible outcomes. Preparing both mentally and physically is an important step during your surgical journey. Understanding the process and your role in the days following will help move you towards a quicker recovery and developing fewer potential problems.

Working With Your Doctor

Prior to your surgery, your doctor will perform a thorough examination to make sure than there are not any secondary conditions that could interfere with the procedure or post-surgical outcomes. Routine tests, such as blood work, x-rays, or a cardiovascular check up, are usually performed the week before leading up to any major surgery.

  • Discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor and your family physician to see which ones you should stop taking before surgery.
  • Discuss with your doctor about options for preparing for potential blood replacement, including donating your own blood, medical interventions and other treatments, prior to surgery.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight before surgery will help decrease the stress you place on your new joint. However, you should not diet during the month before your surgery.
  • If you are taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications or warfarin or any drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, you will need to stop taking them one week before surgery to minimize bleeding.
  • If you smoke, you should stop or cut down to reduce your surgery risks and improve your recovery.
  • Have any tooth, gum, bladder or bowel problems treated before surgery to reduce the risk of infection later.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, supplemented by a daily multivitamin with iron.
  • Report any infections to your surgeon. Surgery cannot be performed until all infections have cleared up.
  • Arrange for someone to help out with everyday tasks like cooking, shopping and laundry.
  • Put items that you use often within easy reach before surgery, so you won’t have to reach and bend as often.
  • Remove all loose carpets and tape down electrical cords to avoid falls.
  • Make sure you have a stable chair with a firm seat cushion, a firm back and two arms.

Preparing For Surgery

If you are having day surgery, please remember the following:

  • Have someone available to take you home, as you will not be able to drive for at least 24 hours.
  • Do not drink or eat anything in the car on the trip home.
  • The combination of anesthesia, food, and car motion can quite often cause nausea or vomiting. After arriving home, wait until you are hungry before trying to eat. Begin with a light meal and try to avoid greasy food for the first 24 hours.
  • If you had surgery on an extremity (leg, knee, hand or elbow), keep that extremity elevated and use ice as directed. This will help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Take your pain medicine as directed. Begin the pain medicine as you start getting uncomfortable, but before you are in severe pain. If you wait to take your pain medication until the pain is severe, you will have more difficulty in controlling the pain.

  • When is it the right time to have surgery?

    Not all injuries require surgical intervention. If your pain or discomfort can be managed through more conservative techniques, which may include pain management or physical therapy, then surgery might not be necessary. Until you have exhausted all options and your pain becomes too debilitating where it inhibits your ability to function on a daily basis, then you and your doctor can discuss further treatment options.

  • What are some alternative non-invasive or conservative treatment options other than surgery?

    Some treatment options can include, but are not limited to, physical therapy and rehabilitation to restore functional strength and mobility, localized injections to decrease inflammation, or use of short-term prescribed or over-the-counter medications, rest, and daily icing until acute symptoms subside. These options may not be medically appropriate for each individual, but can be discussed with your doctor in further detail.

  • Why is my doctor recommending weight loss prior to surgery?

    There are various risks associated with surgical intervention, however, this increases in individuals that are considered to be overweight or obese.

  • What should I be eating as my body is healing?

    As you recover from your surgery or injury, the nutritional content of what you are taking in is very important and crucial to a healthy recovery. During this time you want to make sure your are fueling your body with the appropriate amount of nutrients that will help aid in the healing process, which will further improve your outcome.

  • What are the signs and symptoms of infection?

    ​Increased pain, swelling, redness, and warmth are all potential cardinal signs of a developing an infection. Symptoms may also include a wound or incision that has pus or yellow drainage, and can even result in fever and chills. If you are concerned you may have developed an infection, please contact your doctor immediately to seek medical attention.

  • What are the signs and symptoms of a blood clot (DVT)?

    Also referred to as deep vein thrombosis, causes increased swelling, pain or tenderness, red or discolored skin, distended and thickening of veins in the calf or groin regions. Symptoms may also include shortness or breath, sudden onset of chest pain, coughing, and spitting up blood, which is common with a pulmonary embolism (PE). If you are concerned you may have developed a blood clot, please contact your doctor immediately to seek medical attention.