The period of time between the day you schedule your surgery and the actual surgery can be stressful. You will want to get all your plans and affairs in order before your surgery date. Apart from accommodating your surgery in your busy schedule, don’t forget these key things you can do to prepare yourself for surgery.
1- Ask a lot of questions
You’ve got a lot of questions to ask and only a few chances to meet with the surgeon before the operation. It’s important to make the most out of these meetings and get as much information as possible. Do you know exactly what is going to happen the day of the surgery? What anesthetic will be used? How is your recovery expected to go? How long will it last? Should you do anything special to prepare yourself for the procedure?
Be sure to ask your doctor/surgeon as many questions as you need to feel comfortable about the procedure. The more questions you ask, the more informed you’ll be and the less anxiety you’ll have.
2- Pre-surgical diet
Technically, there is no specific pre-surgical diet. However, pre-surgical nutrition matters, and it can make a real difference in your recovery. A smooth, quick, complication-free recovery (that gets you out of the hospital faster) is a lot more likely to happen if you have a good pre-op nutrition.
A few weeks before the surgery, make sure your diet is high in
- fruits and vegetables, and
- dairy products.
Think about using supplements to make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals that you need. Make sure to ask your surgeon before you choose a supplement. Some nutrients act as natural blood thinners which should be avoided before surgery. That being said, your diet may not be enough to nutritionally prepare your body for surgical stress. Nutritional support during the preparatory period is essential.
Good nutrition can play a huge role in making your recovery faster, smoother, and uneventful. Don’t neglect it, and don’t let your pre-op nutrition be an afterthought.
3- Know what to expect after the surgery
Surgical procedures put the body under an extraordinary amount of stress. It must
- deal with fluid loss and tissue damage,
- fight infections, and
- use all resources to start the healing process.
It goes without saying that after the surgery you’ll feel tired, fatigued, and in some pain. It’s important to have a rough idea of how long your doctor or surgeon expects you to take to fully recover. This is especially important so that you can plan well in advance for factors like
- missed work,
- babysitting, and
- assistance from family/friends.
4- Post-operative pain care
Post-operative pain will be present for the first few days or weeks. This does not mean that you will be in excruciating pain every single day. Still, it is reasonable to expect at least a little bit of discomfort. There is good news, though. If you get on top of your pain management early, you can keep the pain and discomfort to a minimum.
The key is not waiting until after the procedure to speak to your doctor about post-op pain relief. Speak to them before the operation or during your pre-surgery meeting. This is also a good time to bring up the pain medication you will be taking. Many patients have some hesitation about taking pain medications. Doctors can usually prescribe different types of pain medications if this is a big concern. Find out all this information before the operation.
5- Stop smoking
The American College of Surgeons recommends that patients quit smoking 4 to 6 weeks before their operation and stay smoke-free 4 weeks after the procedure1. Doing so can decrease your rate of wound complications by 50%1. Although it can seem like a tough challenge, speak to your doctor for advice on the best way to quit. They will be more than happy to help and provide support and can also prescribe things like nicotine patches and sugarless
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1- American College of Surgeon. Quit smoking before your operation. https://www.facs.org/education/patient-education/patient-resources/prepare/quit-smoking